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Aquino: Cabinet members bypassed due to personal reasons

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III spoke out about the failure of 4 of his Cabinet members to get confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) 4 years into his term, saying they were bypassed due to personal reasons.

On Thursday, June 5, a day after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's appointment was blocked by 3 individuals at her appointment hearing, Aquino said he felt it wasn't merit that deliberations are based on.

He also called on the CA to shift their perspectives and focus on competence.

"I think the objections are personal as opposed to professional," Aquino told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia Europe Meeting on disaster risk reduction and management.

He added, "But again, when we ask why they have yet to be confirmed, it appears that the [critics are] specific individuals who have an ax to grind. And we are hoping that this shifts from personal to professional or very professional."

At the hearing, De Lima was accused of having a bias for pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, also of receiving monthly allowances when she was still head of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) under the Arroyo administration, and of having "illicit affairs" with two men.

Besides De Lima, 3 other Cabinet secretaries remain unconfirmed: Social Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

Soliman however, is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday, June 11, the last session day of this year's Congress.

Regardless, Aquino has reappointed the same people as his secretaries in the last few years.

Ironically, when Aquino was senator in 2007, he filed a bill prohibiting the President from reappointing a nominee that the CA has bypassed thrice.

Aquino responded to this, saying he has been reappointing his secretaries because he trusts them. 

He remained optimistic his Cabinet members still awaiting confirmation would be confirmed.

"We have, in effect, not really interfered with the Commission on Appointments. We are cooperating with them when they asked for the Cabinet secretaries to be present. We are trusting the system that will eventually, hopefully, confirm all of these 3 people." – Rappler.com