Pernia on Chua's NEDA post: He must not 'just agree to everything'
MANILA, Philippines – Resigned Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Monday, April 20, said Karl Chua should maintain independence once he takes over as the country's chief economist amid the coronavirus crisis.
In an interview with ANC, Pernia praised Chua as a "very able economist," but noted that he must "have an independent mind and not just agree to everything."
Pernia resigned as chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) last Friday, April 17, citing differences in philosophy with some Cabinet officials.
Chua was undersecretary of the Department of Finance before being appointed as acting secretary of NEDA.
Pernia added that Chua's appointment may lead to less debates in President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team. (READ: TIMELINE: Ernesto Pernia as NEDA secretary)
"I guess he (Duterte) wants a smoother, less of a debate, less disagreements, less differences, when Karl Chua, who is from the Department of Finance will head NEDA because naturally that would be the logical sequence of having him there," Pernia said.
Pernia admitted that he was surprised "in a way" when Chua was named as his replacement, but was not surprised that the President accepted his resignation.
"That gives me a signal that maybe the head of the economic team has other plans with NEDA," he said.
Pernia said he had "some information" that someone talked to Duterte to accept the resignation.
Several sources have noted that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was for Pernia being eased out of the Cabinet. Dominguez has denied this.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Pernia said he does not want to point fingers, but admitted in the ANC interview that he and Dominguez have not spoken since his resignation.
Asked whether he would accept an offer to be appointed back to government, Pernia said he may consider, but definitely not in the Cabinet again.
"I don't have any problems with President Duterte actually, we are good friends and there is some affinity between us. But Duterte listens to people and whoever gets to his ear, he listens to them, and I don't have that particular closeness that other people have with the President," Pernia said.
Chua and Pernia will meet on Tuesday, April 21, for their turnover. – Rappler.com