Will pork probe affect De Lima’s CA confirmation?

Natashya Gutierrez
Senate President Drilon is confident the Commission on Appointments will be objective in deciding Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's confirmation

AWAITING CONFIRMATION. A file photo of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – She was appointed justice secretary in 2010, but the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) has yet to confirm her nomination to the post. 

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, is in the middle of a high-profile probe on a pork barrel scam that whistleblowers say involves senators and members of the House of Representatives. She said her department will be filing charges against lawmakers in the coming weeks.

Will her CA confirmation be affected by this investigation? 

Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday, August 14, the probe on the scam will not affect De Lima’s chances.

“I am confident that the lawmakers will be objective in their questions on the nominees. I cannot discount the possibility that it will be asked. But I am confident that this will not affect the judgment of the members of the Commission on the qualifications and competence of the nominees,” Drilon said.

He said the CA “is supposed to pass upon the qualifications of the nominees,” and said if “the collective body votes that these nominees are not fit,” it does not mean the nominee cannot be re-appointed.

De Lima’s ad interim appointment lapsed at the end of the 15th Congress. Her current ad interim appointment is now awaiting confirmation from the CA, which is tasked by the Constitution to organize itself within 30 days from the opening of a new Congress.

Drilon said the Commission was fully organized on Wednesday — less than a month since the 16th Congress convened on July 22.

“We will start working on the nominees. Unfortunately, we have two holidays in the coming week so in the last Wednesday of August, we hope to be able to confirm the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a few other officers of the Armed Forces and the ambassadors whose nominations are before the commission,” he said, adding he does not think the confirmation of AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and other AFP and foreign affairs officers would be a problem.

The Senate President said he expects De Lima’s nomination, as well as other Cabinet Secretaries,’  to be addressed in September.

Along with De Lima, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje,  Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Energy Secretary Jericho Carlos Petilla are also awaiting confirmation.

The Palace also dismissed concerns De Lima’s probe will be affected by the fact that she has not been confirmed by the CA. Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda gave assurances she “will do her job regardless of who gets affected.”

Drilon, the chairman of the CA, will be joined by fellow officers Western Samar Rep Mel Senen Sarmiento, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Zamboanga del Norte Rep Rosendo Labadlabad, Isabela Rep Rodolfo Albano and Sen Juan Ponce Enrile — whose name has been linked to the scam .

Senate CA members include Alan Cayetano, Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, Sergio Osmeña III,  and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, while the CA members from the House of Representatives are Compostela Valley Rep Rommel Amatong, Capiz Rep Antonio del Rosario, Negros Oriental Rep George Arnaiz, Davao Oriental Rep Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Cagayan de Oro Rep Rufus Rodriguez, Cavite Rep Roy Loyola, Abono Party-list Rep Conrado Estrella III,  ABS-Party-list Rep Catalina Leonen Pizarro, TUCP Party-list Rep Raymond Democrito Mendoza, and Butil Party-list Rep Agapito Guanlao. Rappler.com

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