Almost a week ago, Vic Rodriguez issued a statement, saying he had asked permission to step down from his lofty position as executive secretary. He even thanked President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr for the trust and confidence given him.

This was before the president left for New York to attend the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations. That’s the main event but he also rushed to New York to catch Eric Clapton’s concert.

Back in the Philippines, the government was safely in the hands of the vice president, Sara Duterte-Carpio. This was the second time she took over when the president was on an official visit abroad. The last time was when Marcos Jr went to Indonesia and Singapore for a state visit.

In the past, when the president was away, the government was left in the hands of the executive secretary. In this case, it does not matter even if the executive secretary stepped down because Sara was there.

But it is not that simple. The executive secretary still plays a role in day-to-day state affairs and signs important documents on behalf of the president. Sara has no power to sign papers and enter into agreements unless the president dies or is incapacitated. That is very clear in the 1987 Constitution.

In short, Sara only has ceremonial powers. The real powers are in the hands of the executive secretary.

But Vic Rodriguez resigned. There are widespread speculations why Rodriguez left his position. Some people say he was a victim of political infighting inside the president’s circles.

Obviously, Vic had stepped on many toes, including a person very close to the president, because he was too slow to process appointment papers of people the president wanted to reward with positions for helping in the election campaign.

But Vic was too fast to approve appointments of people close to him. In fact, some of the appointments he had approved were controversial and were questioned by people close to the president.

In less than 100 days in office, Vic drew a lot of controversies, which could affect the president. He should have been the shock absorber but he instead tried to hide behind the president. He wanted the president to take the bullets for him.

Vic also got himself into trouble with a controversial Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) resolution approving the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Like the biblical Pontius Pilate, he washed his hands clean in a Senate Blue Ribbon investigation and blamed an agriculture undersecretary and SRA officials for the fiasco.

However, Vic cannot completely absolve himself because he knew about the sugar order. There was miscommunication and he could simply have owned up to the mistake instead of passing it to the SRA and the farm undersecretary.

His true character was unmasked in the sugar controversy. When things went wrong, he would save himself and let the others fall. It was very dishonorable for a senior government official.

In just a very short period, Vic became the most controversial top official in the Marcos government and it was time for him to go to save the president’s reputation.

But it appears Vic does not want to leave the corridors of power. Going back to his resignation statement, he said he would continue to serve the country as the presidential chief of staff.

The press secretary issued a separate statement enumerating the powers of the new office, which would become problematic because it would usurp the powers of the executive secretary, a position vetted by the powerful bicameral Commission on Appointments.

The new office will not pass through the confirmation process, or under the scrutiny of legislators.

There were reports swirling in some coffee shops that the Commission on Appointments would have made it hard for Vic to get confirmation as executive secretary, or that he would be rejected.

Was the new post simply meant to skirt the confirmation process or could there be more stories behind the resignation?

There were so many mysteries behind Vic’s statements about stepping down as executive secretary and creating a new office with the same or more powers than the executive secretary.

One, the president has not made a statement accepting Vic’s resignation.

Two, the president also did not say whether he had agreed to abolish the executive secretary position and replace it with the presidential chief of staff position.

Three, there was no word whether the president would appoint a new executive secretary. There were some names in the air, including a former Supreme Court chief justice, two Cabinet members, and a close friend of the first lady who had served in the executive secretary position in the past.

Moreover, it was uncertain if the president had approved the office of the presidential chief of staff and the powers of the new office.

The president’s chief legal counsel, Juan Ponce Enrile, opposed the creation of the presidential chief of staff office because it would be a duplication of the functions under the executive secretary and other offices, including the special assistant to the president, which was reserved for the president’s buddy, Anton Lagdameo. It was the same position occupied by Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go under Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

It appeared that Vic was trying to pull a trick into getting so much power without any accountability.

The mystery around Vic’s position in government was largely due to the president’s silence on the issue. Was he too busy meeting world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly or meeting with foreign investors at the New York Stock Exchange?

Hopefully, these issues will have clarity when Bongbong returns this weekend. It does not look good for the president if he allows the mystery around Vic’s position to persist. His own credibility and decisiveness is at stake.