It comes as a surprise that the President has appointed Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as the new Presidential Spokesman, replacing Outgoing Secretary Ignacio Bunye, who will be assigned to the Monetary Board. It comes as a surprise because in the past, the Spokesman position is usually held concurrently by the Press Secretary, which is the case of Bunye. Otherwise, it is held separately by two different officials.
Still, there is reason for one not to be surprised at the appointment. Having covered Malacanang, it is Ermita — whom we in the media casually refer to as “ES” for Executive Secretary — who holds regular, televised press briefings on Wednesdays. Some media practitioners would even claim that after the Garci controversy in 2005, it is Ermita who has been doing Bunye’s job, and is not afraid to answer media queries. This is provided that the media would be able to successfully corner him at the Palace or at selected events outside Malacañang. Tough luck still getting a statement on an ordinary day, especially if the comment needed is a reaction against brickbats by the opposition.
His appointment will definitely be good for the President because Malacanang will be able to control more the information coming out of the Palace.
There were instances of confusion in the past because the opinions of Ermita, Bunye, and then Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor would all differ — especially with the Garci issue. Go figure. But now, it’s just Ermita, Deputy Spokespersons Anthony Golez and Lorelei Fajardo (who I presume will be under him now), and Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol, who is sought by the media for other legal reactions.
Let’s not forget too that Ermita after all, is the real alter ego of the President — a “Little President.”
The Palace has been criticized many times for its silence on many issues. It has proactively waived its right to be heard on so many issues because it has chosen to say “no comment” on many controversies — which by the way, has not helped the Palace itself. Let’s see if there will be any change to the access to information. If Ermita seriously wants to do a good job as spokesman, he ought to consider answering his phone more often, and sending out more releases.
Hopefully Ermita, who is also now an SM aside from an ES, will continue to be a sport, regardless of the issues thrown at the President.
STILL, more than Ermita, I’m hoping that the heads of the grossly unqualified cabinet members would finally roll. Although I highly doubt that given the kind of political patronage in this country.