MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has reappointed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, the Commission on Appointments (CA) reported yesterday.
CA records showed that Malacañang submitted from April 1 to 16 the re-appointment papers of De Lima and Robredo who have not been subjected to the scrutiny of the commission since Aquino appointed them shortly after assuming office in 2010.
The five Cabinet secretaries were included in list of 68 foreign service officers and military generals that was submitted to the commission as of April 17.
Ambassador to Beijing Domingo Lee and Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Augusto Lagman were not included in the list of reappointed officials submitted to the CA.
Commission on Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza, the former state witness in the Senate public hearings, was also reappointed as COA commissioner with a fixed term until Feb. 2, 2018.
Meanwhile, De Lima said she has not made any decision yet on whether to run or not in the 2013 elections.
De Lima visited Dagupan City and met Mayor Benjamin Lim, Rep. Ma. Rachel Arenas and other local leaders.
She said that she finds it reprehensible for prospective candidates to prematurely campaign.
She said that people really have been asking about her political plans but she keeps on telling them that she has not decided yet.
“If I run, it has to have a blessing from the President because if there is none, then forget it. I won’t pursue that,” she said.
She said that it is still too early for candidates to position themselves.
“I think we should first focus on governance because there are still many problems the country is facing,” she said.
De Lima said she has lost her privacy as she is now surrounded with bodyguards because of various death threats.
She said when she was head of the Commission on Human Rights she had no death threats.
“But more so now because of controversial and high profile cases that I’m handling but actually I really don’t take them seriously only that my security take them seriously,” she said.
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Group Secretary Ricky Carandang said Malacañang is 100 percent behind presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Secretary De Lima, even though both officials are facing disbarment cases that the Supreme Court has referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
“We continue to express our full trust and confidence in Secretary Lacierda and De Lima and that’s not going to change,” Carandang said.
The SC has referred to IBP the disbarment case that stemmed from the secretaries’ remarks against Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom De Lima allegedly described as a lawless tyrant.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez said that under the rules it is either the Office of the Bar Confidant, an office directly within the SC, or the IBP, a lawyers’ organization, which makes reports and recommendations on disbarment complaints.
“The SC is not bound by the findings of the IBP’s report and recommendations however,” Marquez said.
Lawyer Agustin Sundiam had sought disciplinary actions against De Lima and Lacierda for their “utterances and remarks on national television in support of President Aquino’s criticism of Corona in a summit in December 2011.”
Aquino, whom the judiciary invited as a keynote speaker in the Criminal Justice Summit, lashed out at the Chief Justice, who was just a few feet away from him onstage at Manila Hotel.
Sundiam said the two secretaries violated their oath as lawyers, the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court, which require all lawyers to “observe and maintain the respect and dignity due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.”
The complainant cited De Lima’s strongly worded statement last December where she described Chief Justice Corona as “a tyrant who holds himself above justice and accountability.”
The petitioner alleged that the same remarks made by De Lima and Lacierda against Corona also constitute indirect contempt defined and punishable under the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure. – With Eva Visperas, Delon Porcalla