Remaining Duterte appointees' fate hangs before Commission on Appointments

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2022 09:11 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Appointments can only hear the nomination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s remaining appointees until June 3, leaving the fate of his remaining nominees hanging.

The Senate and the House of Representatives under the 18th Congress whose members also sit as CA members, will formally end on June 30.

Lawmakers are currently preoccupied with the canvassing of votes for the presidential and vice presidential race in Halalan 2022, noted Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Aside from more than 50 military officers who are up for promotion, the following presidential nominees are also waiting for the CA’s attention:

  • Rizalina Noval Justo, as chairperson of the Commission on Audit
  • Karlo Alexis Nograles, as chairman of the Civil Service Commission
  • Saidamen Balt Pangarungan, as chairman of the Commission on Elections
  • George Garcia, as Comelec Commissioner
  • Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, as Comelec Commissioner

In an interview Tuesday, Sotto said the CA can only spare two more session days – May 25 and June 1.

“(May) 25th is next to impossible because we are the National Canvassing Board, we will be here. Therefore, it is only the Senate President that can convene the Commission on Appointments,” he said.

The CA committee on constitutional amendments has scheduled a panel hearing for the COA, CSC and Comelec nominees on Wednesday.

The CA committee on national defense will also hear the AFP nominees.
 
Still, given the situation, the Plenary Session, which normally follows the hearing, can only be held on June 1 which is the tail end of Senate session, Sotto said.

“I’m told na there are 50 generals, 50 AFP, that await their confirmation. Now, the setback there is, a number of them will be celebrating their birthdays in June, July, So if they are not confirmed at na-bypass, hindi matataas ang ranggo nila when they retire,” he pointed out.

And while there are observations that the 2022 elections were successful, the grilling of the Comelec nominees on issues hounding them will still continue, Sotto said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has earlier said that he will question the qualification of Neri as a Comelec appointee.

When sought for his views, Sotto aid: “Everything will have an impact on their confirmation, not just the elections, but whatever issues, objections, complaints are aired against any particular nominee.”

Drilon said he intends to pose questions during the hearing.

“The Commission on Appointments would be composed of both the House and the Senate… I have concerns about Commissioner Neri. I will attend the sessions on June 1. Let’s see what happens,” Drilon said.

Asked what will be the status of those who will fail to bag the CA confirmation on or before June 1, Sotto said: "Bypassed sila, if they are not confirmed."

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, a member of the CA constitutional commissions panel, echoed Sotto's point.

"If bypassed, then ad interim appointment effectivity terminates. And no “midnight appointment” allowed at this time (my opinion)," Pimentel said.

For him, it would be helpful if the next president will be given a free hand in making his own appointment.

"Better policy is for the incumbent/outgoing president to let the incoming president choose the officials, if bypassed at this time," Pimentel said.

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