MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim appointments of three Cabinet members and two commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA).
Secretaries Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Corazon Juliano-Soliman of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Ramon Paje of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) got the CA confirmation.
COA commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Jose Fabia also earned the nod of the powerful commission for their terms expiring on Feb. 2, 2018 and Feb. 2, 2020, respectively.
Except for Paje, all the nominees received unanimous approval from the CA members upon the recommendation of the committees that deliberated their appointments.
Senator Serge Osmena registered negative vote against the confirmation of Paje at the plenary.
President Benigno Aquino appointed Paje, once named as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men, as DENR chief in 2010.
Soliman was finally confirmed also four years after President Aquino appointed her in a position she once held under former President and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
”It’s a humbling experience, I will continue to serve,” Soliman said.
De Lima, on the other hand, said her confirmation has inspired her more to perform her mandate amid the controversial pork barrel scam.
”It inspired me more to perform my mandate,” De Lima said.
De Lima was emotional after the committee on justice and judicial and bar council endorsed her confirmation despite strong opposition from whistleblower Sandra Cam who even threatened to expose De Lima’s private life.
”Personally, I’m not angry with her. I believe that perhaps somebody is behind her. We’re very nice to each other before. So to Sandra, please! Enough, enough,” De Lima appealed.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the CA committee on justice and judicial bar council, said De Lima “fully deserves the position of Secretary of Justice.”
”From the onset of the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, in her stint as acting justice secretary, she has discharged her duties with sublime intentions and steadfast devotion to the cause of human rights and justice for all,” Pimentel said in his sponsorship of De Lima’s confirmation.
While Fabia hurdled easily the CA committee on constitutional amendments and offices, Mendoza has to go through the hole of the needle after Senator Jinggoy Estrada tried to block her confirmation right at the committee level.
Estrada moved to suspend the consideration of Mendoza’s deliberation for him to ask numerous questions to the COA commissioner.
The CA panel has instead requested Estrada to finish all his questions in 20 minutes.
The senator obliged but was outvoted, allowing Mendoza to proceed at the plenary with the committee recommendation.
Mendoza, who has been working for COA for two decades, was appointed as COA commissioner by President Aquino in 2011.
Fabia, a former director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), was appointed commissioner only last June.
CA chairman and Senate President Franklin Drilon said the commission will continue to monitor the performance of the confirmed Cabinet officials.
”We will continue to monitor them although their stay in the Cabinet is subject to trust and confidence of the President,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the CA bypassed the confirmation of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla due to some issues that Osmena wanted to clarify.
”I assumed that the President will reappointment Secretary Petilla next week,” Drilon said.