Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

‘On leave’ Tulfo skips last Marcos Cabinet meeting of 2022

Ryan Macasero
‘On leave’ Tulfo skips last Marcos Cabinet meeting of 2022

SOCIAL SECRETARY. DSWD Secretary Ewin Tulfo attends briefing after Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

Erwin Tulfo's Facebook page

DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo, who was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments, says he is on leave and an undersecretary attended the Cabinet meeting in his place

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo was absent on Tuesday, December 20, from the 13th Cabinet meeting of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the last for 2022.

Tulfo, who was bypassed for a second time by the Commission on Appointments (CA) last December 14 , told Rappler in a text message he was “on leave” and that an undersecretary attended the meeting in his place.

“I am on leave. I informed President Marcos. Undersecretary [Adonis] Sulit was there,” Tulfo said, without stating the reason for his leave.

For Marcos’ 13th cabinet meeting, new Palace briefer Daphne Oseña-Paez, said department heads presented the key accomplishments of their respective agencies from July to December, and their programs for 2023.

“In the Cabinet meeting earlier, only 11 were able to present their accomplishments because there was not enough time,” Oseña-Paez said in a mix of Filipino and English. “Those who were not able to present will do so during the next Cabinet meeting in January,” she added.

The DSWD was not among those which presented during the Tuesday Cabinet meeting.

The DSWD secretary was scheduled to appear at a services caravan event in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, on Wednesday December 21.

Tulfo did not comment when asked by Rappler if he had already discussed his reappointment with Marcos.

Ad-interim secretaries can only be reappointed two times if they are bypassed by the CA. Afterwards, Marcos would have to appoint a new secretary to fill the vacant position.

CA members bypassed Tulfo because of his citizenship issues and a libel conviction that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri told reporters last December 12.

Tulfo, a well-known former broadcaster, previously said he renounced his US citizenship prior to his appointment in 2022.

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Zubiri said that they would confer legal experts – and possibly the Supreme Court – on Tulfo’s libel conviction.

“There are implications, the CA has never confirmed anyone with final conviction,” Zubiri said in Filipino then. “We have to study first the legal implications. It’s moral turpitude, there has been precedence in the SC. There are decided cases.”

Zubiri, who heads the CA, said they would take up Tulfo’s appointment in the first CA hearing in early 2023.

At the November 22 CA hearing, Tulfo asked for an executive session to discuss his citizenship and libel conviction issues with the lawmakers. – Rappler.com

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Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com