MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday, June 3, vowed to block the confirmation of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman by asking Congress to simply suspend any action on her nomination.
Santiago said she would invoke Section 20 of the rules of the Commission on Appointments (CA) at the hearing on Wednesday morning, June 4.
In practice, Section 20, when invoked by any member of the CA, can effectively kill any nomination without the need for any explanation.
Ahead of the scheduled CA hearing on Wednesday, June 4, Santiago sent a letter to Abono party-list Representative Conrado Estrella III, chairperson of the House committee on labor, employment and social Welfare, to express her opposition to Soliman’s confirmation.
Santiago denounced Soliman’s shifting loyalties between two presidents and the secretary’s alleged criticism of Santiago as pro-Estrada. Santiago voted against the opening of the second envelope during the impeachment hearing of former President Joseph Estrada in early 2001.
Her letter read: “I have been opposed to Ms Soliman’s nomination from the very beginning of the Aquino administration. Ms Soliman was a fervent devotee of President Arroyo. All of a sudden, on her way to Emmaus, she heard a voice telling her that President Arroyo is allegedly corrupt. Conveniently, she turned her back on her erstwhile patron and ran to the other side of the street to join President Aquino’s daang matuwid. In the first place, she should not retain her public office on the strength of her denunciations of her first boss.”
Soliman also served as the social welfare and development secretary under the Arroyo administration, and was among those who convinced Arroyo to do the “I am sorry” video after the President was implicated in electoral fraud. When public outrage didn’t die down after Arroyo’s apology, Soliman resigned along with other Cabinet officials.
Santiago said she will attend Wednesday’s hearing even if she is on “extended medical leave” to block Soliman’s appointment.
In 2011, Santiago had also moved to defer Soliman’s confirmation over the same reasons.
Section 20 of the rules of the CA states:
“SECTION 20. SUSPENSION OF CONSIDERATION OF NOMINATIONS OR APPOINTMENTS. Any member may move for the suspension of action by the Commission on any nomination or appointment favorably recommended by a standing committee and the Chairman shall suspend the consideration of said nomination or appointment: Provided, that, such suspension may be taken up on the next succeeding session of the Commission; Provided, further, that this section shall not apply to nominations or appointments taken up by the Commission during the last session prior to an adjournment of Congress.”
The last two CA sessions will be on Wednesday, June 4, and Wednesday, June 11, before Congress adjourns its 1st regular session.
Read Santiago’s letter below: