MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson, member of the Commission on Appointments (CA), slammed Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo for likening her delayed confirmation to “torture.”
Taguiwalo, in a tweet, lamented the postponement of her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, May 17. She was originally set to face the CA at 11 am, after the hearings of incoming Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
“This is a form of torture that the CA and its members are subjecting me to. I’m very willing to submit to their questioning and answer all of them,” Taguiwalo said on Twitter.
“I’m a survivor of Martial Law and a torture victim. I was forced to strip naked and made to sit on a block of ice by elements of the military. I am in office to serve the Filipino people, especially the poor and those in need. It is to them that I am most accountable,” she said in another post.
But these remarks did not sit well with Lacson, who said it is improper for Taguiwalo to “pressure” the CA. He said Taguiwalo should “behave,” as she is seeking the nod of the body.
Lacson had earlier said that he would vote for the secretary’s appointment, but with Taguiwalo’s tweets, that decision might just change.
“Kung ganyan ang attitude ng nominee, appointee, while I already manifested my support baka magbago isip ko. Sa lahat ng ayoko ‘yung pine-pressure ako either way. Naghahanap siya ng boto, [so] she should behave. Hindi ‘yung parang nananakot or nang-iintimidate. ‘Wag gano’n,” the senator told reporters in an interview.
(If that is the attitude of the nominee, appointee, while I already manifested my support, I might change my mind. Of all the things I don’t like, it’s when someone pressures me to do something. She’s looking for votes, so she should behave. She should not threaten or intimidate us.)
Cayetano and other diplomats were scheduled at 9 am on Wednesday, followed by Ubial at 10 am, and Taguiwalo at 11 am. The CA plenary was set for noon, ahead of the 3 pm Senate session.
But due to the lengthy deliberations on the appointments of 3 diplomats and Ubial, Taguiwalo’s turn had to be moved to a later date. There were 3 oppositions filed against Ubial’s appointment. (READ: CA defers confirmation of DOH chief Ubial)
Lacson pointed out that there was nothing unusual with the rescheduling.
“Dapat ma-brief siya kung papaano mag-work ang Commission on Appointments. ‘Di namin hawak oras, ‘di namin hawak miyembro para kontrolin kung gusto pa magtanong sa ibang nominees. Nawalan ng material time. Nagtagal sa DFA, sa Health. ‘Di naman puwede diktahan ang commission na andiyan siya, unahin siya. Papaano naman ‘yung ibang nauna?” he said.
(She should be briefed on how the Commission on Appointments works. We don’t control the time, we can’t control members if they want to ask questions from nominees. We lost material time because we spent a long time tackling DFA, Health appointments. You can’t dictate on the commission that just because you’re already there, you should go first. What about those who are scheduled ahead of her?)
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito also said the delay was not intentional.
“Well, I don’t think so, a lot of people were there in the proceedings of the CA this morning, naka-live naman (it was aired live), well-covered. It just so happened [that] Ubial took a long time because of oppositors, umabot (it reached) 1 pm. Plus we had no choice because we had to convene plenary, it really happens. I’m just hoping Secretary Taguiwalo would understand kasi ‘di talaga natapos (because we really were unable to complete the hearings today),” Ejercito told reporters.
“It’s just a question of the commission running out of time. The problem was the opposition to Ubial took time and therefore we ran out of time for Secretary Taguiwalo. As far as I know, there is no deliberate effort,” Drilon said.
CA committee on labor and social welfare chairperson Representative Joel Almario said the hearing was delayed due to “lack of time.”
“I’ve done my best to have her hearings and hopefully eventual confirmation but I have to defer to [the] scheduling of the commission. To my knowledge, the other secretaries and military officers who have not been scheduled yet did not say the same statement,” Almario told Rappler.
There is no definite schedule for Taguiwalo’s next hearing yet but Almario said he would work on scheduling it next Wednesday, May 24.
So far, there are only 3 Cabinet members whose appointments have yet to be confirmed – Ubial, Taguiwalo, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano. – Rappler.com