De Lima, Paje, Soliman confirmed finally

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 11 2014 02:39 PM | Updated as of Jun 12 2014 12:09 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) has finally confirmed the appointments of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

The commission had snubbed the confirmation of these Cabinet officials several times.

Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Jose Fabia also got the nod of the plenary.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said De Lima "fully deserves" the post as justice chief since she has the "tenacity to do what needs to be done without fear" even if she is already stepping on the toes of powerful personalities.

"Everyone knows that she is widely regarded as a grizzled veteran on human rights cases and a legal luminary in election controversies," Pimentel said.

"De Lima fights for justice and she will do us justice not for her own welfare but for the good of our country and people," he added.

Before getting the CA's nod, de Lima was battered with questions this morning, particularly from Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the three senators facing plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.

Estrada again brought up the letter alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles sent to President Benigno Aquino III, which claimed that lawyer Levito Baligod and retired general Rodolfo Diaz tried to extort money from her.

De Lima said she has instructed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the extortion claim, and to get the side of Baligod and NBI personnel implicated by Napoles.

But she admitted no effort was made to get the side of Diaz, who used to be the head of the Presidential Security Group of Estrada's father, former President Joseph Estrada, since the explanations of Baligod and the NBI were "satisfactory."

Meanwhile, Representative Conrado Estrella III, chairman of the CA Committee on Labor, Employment and Social Welfare, noted the achievements of Soliman as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Estrella said Soliman was able to expand the coverage of government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) from 300,000 to 3.9 million family beneficiaries. She also extended the scope on children from age 0-14 to 0-18.

Soliman was also at the forefront of the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas struck by disasters in the past year.

"She provided leadership for a more efficient and effective delivery of social services to the vulnerable sectors especially children and women," Estrella said.

No one expressed objection to the confirmation of the 5 officials on the floor, except for Senator Serge Osmeña who asked the commission to change his vote for Paje from affirmative to negative.

Osmeña also asked the body to be allowed to explain his decision in writing at a later date.

Soliman, on the other hand, previously got an objection from Senator Miriam Santiago.