MANILA, Philippines - It's payback time.
For what he described as relentless persecution against him on the pork barrel issue, Senator Jinggoy Estrada has vowed to block the confirmation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza before the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Estrada said he has a lot to bring up against Mendoza and De Lima, who both play vital roles in the multibillion-peso pork probe.
The COA came out with a special audit report on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009 in which several legislators, including Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, were found to have endorsed their projects to the non-government organizations of alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles.
De Lima has been in the forefront of the government’s case against personalities tagged in the controversy.
Estrada said he does not even have to raise any issue against De Lima and Mendoza during their confirmation hearings.
As a member of the CA, he said he could simply invoke Section 20 of the CA rule, which allows him to block the confirmation of any nominee during the plenary session without giving a reason.
Since her appointment by the President in 2010, De Lima has not been scheduled for a confirmation hearing, as required under the law for all Cabinet members.
There had been one hearing for Mendoza, but the CA did not confirm her appointment.
Aside from De Lima and Mendoza, the CA has yet to confirm the appointments of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.
Paje, who failed to pass his previous confirmation hearings, will again face the CA for another round of questioning on Wednesday.