For such an esteemed former president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Alfredo Pascual sucks at his job as Trade Secretary.
ALSO READ RELATED BURST YOUR BABBLE STORY: Lakas ng backer! Lotilla’s confirmation as DOE Secretary being rushed after getting stalled in CA
Several Babblers in and out of Malacañang have been disappointed by Pascual’s performance as a Cabinet official in the past six months.
Expectations were high that he would hit the ground running at the Department of Trade and Industry considering his impressive credentials, including a stint as president of the University of the Philippines, a professor at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and a director and advisor of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“He (Pascual) is supposed to be one of the best managers in the country but no one has felt his presence. He’s a placeholder,” a Babbler said.
Another Babbler said one of the sore points about Pascual is his failure to rein in the surge in food prices, particularly in light of the Christmas season.
His subordinate, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, said the spike in prices of Noche Buena items were “justified” given the increase in the cost of raw materials.
Pascual is also getting a bad rap for his aversion to making rounds of public markets to check the prices of basic goods which is part of his job description.
“Tamad siyang (Pascual) umikot sa mga palengke. Ang layo kay Secretary Lopez,” a Babbler said, referring to former Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The rare times he set foot in a public market, he was dressed in his normal corporate gear. “Ang sosyal masyado ng dating, pero naka-tsaleko… para daw mukhang masa,” Babbler said.
A number of government officials and executives are also critical of Pascual’s chronic tardiness. During one of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recent overseas trips, a Babbler said the Trade Secretary arrived late to an official engagement.
“Lagi kasing late. Dumating one hour after ng event, tapos nang mag-speech ang Presidente. Pareho naman sila ng hotel na pinanggalingan,” a Babbler said.
Despite Pascual’s underwhelming performance, there might be no need for Marcos to fire him as the Commission on Appointments (CA) could do the job.
A Babbler said some CA members aren’t keen on confirming Pascual’s appointment because of his unimpressive track record at the DTI.
“Hindi siya makakuha ng schedule sa CA. Maraming senador ang banas sa kanya,” the Babbler said.
Worst of all, some of his peers in the Cabinet just don’t like him personally. “Sa Cabinet, siya ‘yung pinaka-condescending. Kala mo kung sinong magaling,” Babbler said.