‘Nothing personal’ in CA grilling Cabinet appointees – Sato

Mara Cepeda

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‘Nothing personal’ in CA grilling Cabinet appointees – Sato

LeAnne Jazul

Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato says CA members spend a lot of time researching the background of the Cabinet appointees and the needs of the departments

MANILA, Philippines – Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato said the public should not take it against members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) when they ask tough questions to Cabinet appointees. 

“Because as I’ve said, there’s nothing personal in this. It’s a way of, you know, really doing your job as a member of the Commission on Appointments,” said Sato in a Rappler Talk interview.

“The questions that we asked the nominees [are] in no way a reflection of our disrespect for the President. Of course we respect the President,” she added. 

Sato had grilled lawyer Perfecto Yasay Jr during his appointment hearings for the Department of Foreign Affairs post. The lawmaker wanted Yasay to categorically admit or deny previously owning a US passport. 

Sato also quizzed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on the latter’s technical knowledge of the law after she cancelled 75 mineral production sharing agreements in watersheds all over the country. 

The CA already rejected Yasay’s appointment, while it bypassed the appointment of Lopez, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. 

Research and background checks 

Sato made an assurance that all CA members spend enough time digging deep into the background of the Cabinet appointees. 

“That’s why we are given additional staff in the commission, so we could perform well, making investigations on our own, make background information [checks] on our own, and research on our own,” she said.

Sato added the CA members also ask about the current needs of the departments.  

“What are the issues affecting the department, not necessarily the nominee… I even go around and ask what are the issues in the department? What do you think the new secretary can do to improve the services of the department? And that’s part of our job. And I think, I believe, all our members are doing that,” she said.  

Since her appointment to the CA, Sato shared she has been receiving criticism online. But she remains unfazed.

“If you believe in your heart that you’re doing right, you’re doing it for the country  and your people, then you’ll sleep well at night… If you can sleep well at night, then you’re doing okay.” – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.