President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the nomination of former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino as president and chief executive officer of the Clark International Airport Corp., Malacañang said on Wednesday.
"The Office of the Executive Secretary confirms that Mr. Aaron N. Aquino has been appointed member, Board of Directors, Clark
International Airport Corp. on 22 May 2020. Mr. Aquino's nomination as president/CEO of Clark International Airport Corp. has been approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and is now forwarded to the aforesaid corporation's Board of Directors," Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a press statement.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also confirmed Aquino's appointment.
“I can assure you this is not a case of loss of trust and confidence or anything, he (Aquino) will just be given a new assignment,” Roque said in an interview.
Roque made the clarification after PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon on Tuesday claimed that Aquino was relieved and did not step down from his post.whi Roque thanked the former PDEA chief for his “immense contribution” to the administration's campaign against illegal drugs.
Aquino, meanwhile, thanked President Duterte for his stint as PDEA chief.
"I sincerely thank President Rodrigo Duterte for his trust and confidence, and for giving me the opportunity to serve our people and his administration," he said in a statement.
"I also thank the men and women of PDEA for their support to my leadership and dedication to the agency. Thank you for the honor of serving as the sixth director general of PDEA. God bless us all on our next journey," he added.
Meanwhile, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr. said the result-oriented leadership of former PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino will bode well for the development of the state-run Clark International Airport Corporation, the operating arm of the Clark International Airport.
CIAC is currently implementing one of the flagship projects of the government – the expansion of the Clark International Airport Terminal Facility.
Lazatin said the firm leadership of Aquino and his untainted record in government service will further elevate the development programs for the Clark International Airport, now the 3rd busiest airport in the country. The airport was shut down on April 3 during the Enhanced Community Quarantine and may soon gradually resume operations.
Aquino, who hails from Tarlac province, had been appointed as PNP Regional Director of Region 3 when Duterte assumed presidency in 2016.
"With Aquino at the helm of the Clark airport, I know that more positive developments will be realized for the development of the aviation industry in Clark. It is an advantage kasi alam niya ang terrain ng Central Luzon,” said Lazatin.
Aquino’s appointment at CIAC comes at a time when the national government fast tracks the completion of the new modern Clark Terminal that will have a capacity of eight million passengers per year.
The expansion project more than 90 percent finished and is slated to be finished this year if construction will resume amid the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Roque also confirmed that former PDEA 10 (Northern Mindanao) director, Wilkins Villanueva, will be taking Aquino’s place as PDEA chief.
“The Palace confirms that Mr. Wilkins M. Villanueva has been appointed director-general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on 22 May 2020, vice Aaron N. Aquino,” he said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Villanueva himself confirmed his appointment by sharing a copy of his appointment paper on his official Facebook account.
“Mr. Villanueva beat us to it because as I said the procedure is we can’t officially announce until the papers have been released but I guess in his excitement, he posted it on his Facebook,” he said.
He expressed confidence that Villanueva, who is no stranger to drug law enforcement, would lead PDEA and the fight against illegal drugs to “greater heights”.
“He has been working with PDEA for many years before reaching the agency's top position. We, therefore, believe DG Villanueva will lead PDEA and the fight against illegal drugs to greater heights with professionalism, passion, and integrity,” Roque said.
Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, there have been changes in the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte, such as the resignation of Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) last month and the sacking of Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima of the Office of Civil Defense.
Roque said Rio resigned to enjoy his retirement, while Purisima was fired due to “loss of trust and confidence.”
“In the case of Undersecretary Rio, he had long resigned and the President gave instructions, in fact, to congratulate Usec. Rio for a job well done and we are hoping he will finally enjoy his long-deserved retirement. (On Purisima,) I’m not privy to it. The only instruction I got from the President is that there was a loss of trust and confidence,” he said.
Last month, Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also stepped down, citing “personal reasons” and “differences in development philosophy” with some Cabinet members. With PNA