Aquino moves aide opposed by military
Manila — Philippines President Corazon Aquino removed Local Government Minister Aquilino Pimentel, who had been criticized by the military as a leftist, from her Cabinet this past week - and she said that more Cabinet changes would be announced later. Mr. Pimentel, whose job had given him the power to appoint or remove any local or provincial official, will be kept on in the Cabinet as Mrs. Aquino's national affairs adviser.
Pimentel said he lost his old post because elements of the military lobbied very strongly against him.
``I told the President that if blood must be spilled, let it be mine, not hers,'' Pimentel said, adding that his removal should ease some demands from the Army.
Aquino appointed Jaime Ferrer, a former member of Parliament, to Pimentel's previous spot.
Pimentel was the fourth minister to be replaced in the 25-member Cabinet since Aquino demanded the resignations of all her ministers Nov. 23. The shuffle followed the announcement that Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos had foiled a coup by officers linked to then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.
Aquino accepted Mr. Enrile's resignation immediately and fired Public Works Minister Rogaciano Mercado and Natural Resources Minister Ernesto Maceda five days later.
The President announced Pimentel's replacement in a nationally-televised speech Dec. 3. She had been expected to dismiss controversial Labor Minister Augusto Sanchez as well, but apparently withheld an announcement after consultations with labor leaders and businessmen failed to produce agreement on a replacement.
Businessmen want Sanchez out because of his pro-labor policies and a rash of strikes that have hit Philippines factories in recent months. The military considers him a leftist.