The bipartisan Commission on Appointments is proving it is not a rubber stamp of President Rodrigo Duterte. Normally, a party in power elected with an overwhelming majority of votes would have its way in pushing its nominees for Cabinet positions.
But by the composition of the Commission on Appointments, the CA has proven its independence. The latest to be rejected by the powerful CA is Judy Taguiwalo, the President’s nominee for secretary of Social Welfare and Development. Prior to Taguiwalo’s rejection, the CA also threw out the appointment of nominees Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez.
Taguiwalo, a former militant, has found supports among netizens and in the DSWD who thought she would have made a good Social Welfare secretary. Ms. Taguiwalo says she is not going to accept another government position even if appointed again by President Duterte. There are not too many like Taguiwalo. Others would do anything to be appointed by the present dispensation.
Yasay was rejected because it turned out he was an American citizen, a fact that he kept hidden from the CA. Gina Lopez, on the other hand, was rejected for her contentious and adversarial policies against the mining industry. It did not help Yasay that he was a close associate of President Duterte while Gina Lopez of the wealthy and influential Lopez family was a big contributor to Digong’s election campaign and eventual rise to the presidency.
Another appointment that has raised eyebrows is the nomination of newspaper columnist Jose “Babe” Romualdez as Philippine ambassador to Washington. There are certain concerns about his citizenship. Whose interest would he be promoting, the US or the Philippines? So far, no one has come up with evidence that Babe Romualdez at one time held an American passport during his long stay in the US.
A party-list congressman and a social media activist have proposed that public officials, including congressmen and Cabinet officials , should take public transport at least once a week so they can get a feel and a sense of the daily hardships being suffered by commuters in Metro Manila. It’s a challenge to our public officials but how many of them are willing to give up the comfort of their air-conditioned limousines? Dinna Dayang, the social activist, wants government officials to take public transport at least once a week so they will know the grief of lining up in the heat or rain and climbing the long flight of stairs because the escalators at the train stations are not working.
The problem of government officials taking the trains or buses is that the three or four security escorts of these ranking public officials will add to the crowded public utility transport system.
The perennial and daily breakdown of the Metro Rail Transit and the Light Rail Transit places a heavy burden on Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. It could make or break him and will have a bearing on whether he stays as DOTr secretary or not.
To be fair, the problem of the MRT and LRT goes all the way back to the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino. His men in charge of the public transport system—Joseph Emilio Abaya and Al Vitangcol messed up the awarding of the trains’ service maintenance contract to a little known company without a track record in train repair.
The fallout in the P6.4-billion smuggled shipment of shabu continues, with Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon taking the heaviest of the brunt. Faeldon has offered to resign but President Duterte expressed his confidence in the BOC chief. In the Senate hearing on the shabu shipment, former comrades in arms Faeldon and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had a falling out with the former refusing to answer the latter’s question on whether there is widespread corruption in the BOC, something every one already knows the answer to. Trillanes and Faeldon were together during the Oakwood Hotel mutiny in Makati against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Senator Trillanes became an arch critic of President Duterte while Faeldon like other former military officials accepted government positions in the administration.
There are currently some 50 former military and police personnel in the administration, among them Faeldon, Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Dionisio Santiago, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Danny Lim, to name a few.
Is this a prelude to Duterte declaring emergency rule now that he has key former military officials in his administration?