Philippine Daily Inquirer

Executive Secretary Almendras?

- By the staff

WILL PRESIDENT Aquino choose a new Executive Secretary in the comingmont­hs ( or weeks)?

According to our sources, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras is on a very short-list of candidates to become “ Little President” in the event ( however unlikely) that the post currently held by Secretary Jojo Ochoa becomes vacant.

Almendras’ stock has risen in the President’s eyes in recentmont­hs, supposedly because of his skills in managing the critical energy portfolio, plus the fact that he is not identified with either the Samar or Balay factions in the Palace.

More importantl­y, Almendras supposedly heads one of the three factions of Kaklase/ Kaibigan Inc. Even before being named energy chief, he reportedly held enough clout already to give P-Noy a piece of his mind when he found the President’s choice for a key Cabinet post less than impressive.

The other name on the very short short-list of possible Executive Secretarie­s is former Senator Mar Roxas who just returned last week from a two-month trip to the United States following his less-than-favorable showing in last summer’s national elections.

Roxas, of course, will have to wait for the one-year appointmen­t ban to end in mid-2011 before he can be appointed to any government post. Daxim L. Lucas

Yet another candidate

ACCORDING to one Aquino administra­tion source, “ Mr. Ranking Cabinet Official” is not the only person casting a moist eye on the post of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

This source claims that another secretaryl­evel official who holds office at the Palace is also interested in the portfolio if the maneuverin­g for the transfer of Sec. de Lima to the Commission on Elections succeeds.

This official, who— like Mr. Ranking Cabinet Official— is likewise involved in the legal affairs of the Palace ( wait, aren’t they all?), has also been criticized for his less-than-stellar performanc­e during the five months that he has held his post ( remember all those recalled Executive Orders?).

Whoever it is, it seems clear that some forces in Malacañang want Sec. de Lima to become Commission­er de Lima pretty soon ( even if, or maybe

Nice to Nesting

precisely because, she is not aligned with either of the two Palace factions). Daxim L. Lucas ROADBLOCKS that used to be thrown in the path of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Gov. Nestor Espenilla are disappeari­ng one by one.

Known as “ Nesting” to friend and foe alike, the chief enforcer of the country’s banking regulator has made many enemies within the central bank and the broader banking community for pushing unpopular reforms and for breaking up a few rackets.

Of late, however, people have begun to realize that Espenilla was a batchmate of President Aquino during their high school days at the Ateneo ( Espenilla went to the University of the Philippine­s for his college degree).

As such, Espenilla has unofficial­ly become a dark horse candidate for the governorsh­ip of the central bank once the term of Governor Amando

Tetangco Jr. ends in mid-2011. “ All of a sudden, he is being viewed as a contender,” said one banker, who pointed out that some of his peers have softened or quieted down their opposition to the policies of Espenilla, who heads the central bank’s supervisio­n and examinatio­n sector ( essentiall­y it’s financial police).

“ When you’re a candidate, people inside and outside the organizati­on are suddenly nice to you, just in case...,” the banker explained.

For whatever it’s worth, it looks like the overworked Espenilla will be able to get work done faster in the coming months. Daxim L. Lucas

Freshmanda­te

A NEW business umbrella organizati­on is being set up to represent the “ under represente­d” firms based in Manila.

The group— called The Manila Mandate— is being put together by political strategist and Manileño Tony

Gatmaitan to take up the cudgels for firms whose interests are not prominentl­y represente­d by groups like the Makati Business Club or the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries, according toGatmaita­n.

In true trying-to-revive-Manila’sglory fashion, the group will be launched on Friday, Dec. 3, at the historic Manila Grand Opera House with Mayor Fred Lim as the guest of honor.

For Manila history buffs, the Manila Grand Opera House was once owned by Toribio Teodoro, who also owned Ang Tibay shoes ( the local Ferragamo of its day, according to old timers).

The opera house was built using profits from his lucrative supply contract with the Philippine Army for their combat boots needs during the time of President Quezon.

The Manila Grand Opera House was also the venue of the Constituti­onal Convention back then. Daxim L. Lucas

Petron thanks the pipeline

ONE of the stocks that have performed outstandin­gly well in recent weeks— despite the broader market’s decline— is Petron Corp.

One possible reason is speculatio­n over the company’s potential gains after the petroleum pipeline of First Philippine Industrial Corp. was damaged and shut down, resulting in supply shortages for Shell and, to a smaller degree, Chevron.

Stockmarke­t punters have been trying to guess how much market share the fuel refiner and distributo­r would gain due to the gas station shutdowns of its rivals in this intensely competitiv­e market. Wonder nomore. According to a couple of industry sources, the country’ largest petroleum firm has so far managed to raise its market share— which is already the largest— from 40 percent to 45 percent in recentweek­s.

If you know how difficult it is to gain even one percentage point of market share in the petroleum business, you’ll know that Petron’s recent gains are no laughing matter. Daxim L. Lucas

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