CA bypasses Lopez, Ubial, Taguiwalo, Mariano

Camille Elemia

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CA bypasses Lopez, Ubial, Taguiwalo, Mariano
Malacañang says President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to reappoint the 4 Cabinet members to their respective posts

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed on Wednesday, March 15, the last 4 Cabinet members needing confirmation by the powerful body.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano failed to get the nod of the CA on the last day of session before Congress goes on break.

Lopez is facing heightened scrutiny following the filing of at least 20 oppositions against her, mostly over her closure and suspension of mining operations.

Ubial is facing opposition for her stand on condom distribution. Senate Majority Leader and CA member Vicente Sotto III earlier warned that he would block her confirmation if she pushes through with her condom distribution program in schools.

As for Taguiwalo and Mariano, there had been calls for the two left-leaning secretaries to resign after the peace talks between the government and communist rebels earlier collapsed. Both parties, however, said the negotiations are set to resume. Whether this would create a positive development for their confirmation remains to be seen in May when Congress resumes session.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) deplored the bypassing of Taguiwalo and Mariano, calling it a sign of the “rottenness of the system of bureaucrat capitalism.”

“Congressional posts are being used to uphold and defend ruling class interests against forces pushing for reforms in social services, land reform, and the environment. It would be a monumental irony if a government that claims to be led by a ‘leftist’ would end up booting out the leftists from the administration,” Bayan said in a statement.

No politics involved, reappointment

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, CA chairman, denied there is politics involved in the bypassing of the secretaries, saying the issue lies with scheduling.

Of the 4, only Lopez has so far faced the appointments body.

“There are different reasons, like delay in the schedule… or the nominees completed the records on different dates so iba-iba (it varies),” Pimentel said in an interview.

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte would reappoint the 4 Cabinet members.

“The President’s trust and confidence in the Cabinet secretaries bypassed remain undiminished,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

“We expect that they will be reappointed to continue serving their posts,” he added.

In particular, Duterte has repeatedly declared his support for Lopez, even threatening to impose a total mining ban due to its harmful effects on the environment.

The CA has confirmed the following appointments:

  1. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
  2. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
  3. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar
  4. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi
  5. Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña
  6. Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno
  7. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
  8. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
  9. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia
  10. Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima
  11. Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno
  12. Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo
  13. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade
  14. Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar
  15. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II
  16. Education Secretary Leonor Briones
  17. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
  18. Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

The body has only rejected one appointment thus far: former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, for lying under oath about his US citizenship. (READ: Confirmation limbo: Long but futile process?) –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.