MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said he will respect the decision of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to veto his confirmation at the Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Roxas said as a senator and member of the CA, Santiago has the right to veto his appointment and he respects that right.
Santiago earlier informed the CA of her plan to veto the confirmation of Roxas, due to his absence during the probe on former Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno.
In a letter, Santiago said she has "nothing personal" against Roxas, whom she considers as “more than qualified in honesty, competence and efficiency.”
“However, I have announced that I shall oppose the confirmation of any cabinet member whom I invited to the Rico Puno hearing but who all declined to appear,” the senator said. “In so doing, I wish to stand by the principle of checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government."
Roxas, meanwhile, said he did not attend Friday’s hearing because he is not privy to the controversies surrounding the DILG, as he was assigned to the Department of Transportation and Communications.
An ad interim appointment from President Aquino may still allow Roxas to assume his new post as DILG secretary despite the veto, said Senator Panfilo Lacson.
While Lacson refused to comment on whether Santiago's position was fair or not, he stressed that it is legal under Section 20 of their rules.
Section 20 empowers any member of the CA to block the confirmation of any appointee with no explanations needed.
Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who chairs the committee on Local Government, also said it is Santiago's call.
However, he hopes that Roxas' qualifications as well as parliamentary courtesy will prevail.
Sotto refused to comment on Santiago's stand, pointing out that Santiago is accountable to the people.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, meanwhile, said he has invoked Section 20 of the rules many times himself.
Enrile agreed with Lacson, saying Aquino can issue an ad interim appointment, which is valid unless revoked by the CA. -- Reports from Jay Ruiz and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News