Group concerned about Zubiri's blocking of Comelec, CA, CSC nominees

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2022 09:34 PM

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri during the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing on May 30, 2022. Bibo Nueva España, Senate PRIB
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri during the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing on May 30, 2022. Bibo Nueva España, Senate PRIB

MANILA - A group of workers connected to constitutional agencies registered their disappointment over Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri’s stand that incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. must be given the opportunity to appoint his own set of officials.

The group sent a letter to a number of Commission on Appointments members hours after the deferment of the confirmation hearing for the second time Monday of Commission on Audit Chairperson Rizalina Justol, Civil Service Commission Chairman Karlo Alexei Nograles, and Commission on Elections Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan and Commissioners George Erwin Garcia and Aimee Torrefranca-Neri.

A copy of the letter was seen by ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.

“It must be remembered that members of these Constitutional Commissions, unlike Ambassadors, are not appointed nor designated as representatives of the President of the Philippines. Rather, they are expected to serve and fulfill their mandates independent from the influence of the appointing authority, the President,” the Concerned Group Behind Constitutional Commissions said.

The independence of constitutional bodies is clearly stated in the 1987 Constitution, it said.

Allowing Duterte’s nominees to be confirmed, the group stressed, will ensure their agencies' independence as they will not be indebted to Marcos.

“Truly, what better way of proving to the public that the independence of these institutions is ensured than by confirming the appointments made by an outgoing president in Constitutional Commissions, which are expected to fulfill their duties during the term of the incoming administration,” the group said.

A member of the group voiced their apprehension that the CA nomination is being dragged to the current “political intramural”.

Zubiri denied this.

“It has nothing to do with the political intramurals. It's a matter of principle. It's a matter of courtesy to the new administration,” said the lawmaker who ran and won in the May 9 polls under the ticket of Marcos and is said to be eyeing the Senate presidency.

“It’s tantamount to a midnight appointment. Even though they were provisionally appointed in February, their confirmation hearings were scheduled a few weeks before the new government takes over. Parang hindi tama 'yan at dapat ang bagong Pangulo na ang pipili sa kanila. Fixed terms 'yan at mas mahaba pa ang term nila kaysa kay Pangulo BBM. Medyo unfair 'yan para sa new administration,” Zubiri said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa disagrees with Zubiri’s stance not to tackle the nomination of the five nominees.

“Hindi naman midnight appointment yan eh, kasi at the end of the term naman talaga nagpapalitan tao dyan eh... Checks and balance, at saka yung respeto na rin sa outgoing. Kasi sasama yung loob ng outgoing. Sasabihin ni President Duterte na, 'Ganyan talaga yung buhay, wala tayong magawa. Paalis na tayo eh.' After six years of serving this country, is that what he deserves? Balewalain na lang yung kaniyang appointment,” Dela Rosa said.

“I’m just saddened by the fact na pwede palang ganun. Kawawa rin yung outgoing,” he added.

Dela Rosa insisted that qualified presidential nominees must be allowed to go through confirmation.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said, “President Duterte is still the appointing authority subject to the limitations of the Constitution and existing jurisprudence on midnight appointments which in this case has not been violated."

"That said, Sen. Zubiri is a member of the Commission on Appointments and it is well within his prerogative to express his opinion. At the end of the day, if it comes to that, we, as members of the CA will have to vote to confirm or reject the appointees," he added.

Sen. Imee Marcos, sister of the president-elect, said the rules and processes in place should be followed.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III notes that “presidential appointees cannot be insulated from politics completely.”


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