MANILA - The Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) said President Benigno Aquino III is no lame duck president since he still has the power to appoint the heads of constitutional bodies.
In a statement issued by former Education Undersecretary Isagani Cruz, the FSGO said: “Those who perceive the President as a lame duck forget the fact that he will appoint replacements for those chairs of constitutional bodies whose terms expired on 2 February 2015.”
The group said the new appointees will serve beyond Aquino’s term, which means the president knowing them personally or is comfortable with them is not a criteria.
“Neither should these offices be treated as rewards for faithful subordinates or political friends,” it said.
Aquino has yet to name the chiefs of the Commission on Elections and the Civil Service Commission. He earlier named Deputy Executive Secretary Michael Aguinaldo as chairman of the Commission on Audit.
Sources said former SC Justice Adolf Azcuna is a top contender for the Comelec post, but some quarters are still pushing for last-minute changes.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma’s name has cropped up for the CSC post.
“The President must exercise this power with great prudence. In judging his legacy, historians will evaluate the people he appointed and how well they have served,” the FSGO said.
The group said Aquino still has the chance to broaden the search.
“The only criteria for these appointments must be proven competence in the functions they will discharge, a track record of integrity, and a clear commitment to the service of the country,” it said.
The FSGO expects the appointees will have the right credentials and credibility.
They should also have familiarity, if not actual involvement, in government operations.
“The Constitution provides them this protection from possible pressures to accommodate the political powers on whom they exercise oversight. Reflecting the importance of their responsibilities, they are given a life-time pension equivalent to their salary upon retirement, which also benefits from subsequent increases awarded to their offices,” the FSGO said.