July 14, 2010, 12:21pm

President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III has appointed a close friend, former Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva, as new director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Aquino also hinted at plans to appoint former Akbayan party-list Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales as chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to replace Leila de Lima who is now justice secretary.

Villanueva is son of defeated presidential candidate and evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva. Rosales, on the other hand, was representative of Akbayan from 1998 to 2007. She is also founding chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

As for the first marching order to the new TESDA chief, the President directed Villanueva to expand the scholarship program for high school students to improve their technical skills. Villanueva earned a commerce degree from the University of Sto. Tomas in 1996 and later took special studies in business administration at Harvard University in 1999.

Mr. Aquino, speaking to reporters at the Palace last Tuesday, also said he is considering lawyer Andres Bautista as solicitor-general or undersecretary of the justice department.

Bautista could also do well at the tourism department due to his experience in handling Kuok hotel and resort properties, he added.

The President also expressed hopes that Vice President Jejomar Binay will accept a Cabinet portfolio, adding he has offered him to choose from five government positions. He said Binay should make his decision immediately before the positions are filled up.

Among the top positions offered to Binay were the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and Metro Manila Development Authority. But Binay, who reportedly eyed the post of Department of Interior and Local Government, has declined to take any posts in the Aquino Cabinet.

The President is likewise finalizing the selection of new heads of several state agencies, including government- owned controlled corporations and government financial institutions. Aware of the problems raised by retired and incumbent government employees, he said he plans to announce the new head of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) soon.

The selection committee that scrutinizes the qualifications of nominees to key government posts is now limited to the President, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad.

Mr. Aquino said he got rid of the old search group due to unnecessary leaks of nominees to the public even when there has been no formal appointment yet. He said there was a time when a person had agreed to occupy a government position, but had second thoughts and backed out a few days later.