CA OKs appointment of 3 Cabinet secretaries, 13 envoys

Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2022 08:25 PM | Updated as of Dec 08 2022 03:04 AM

(From left to right) DOST Sec. Renato Solidum Jr., Energy Sec. Raphael Lotilla, and DICT Sec. Ivan John Uy's appointments were approved by the Commission on Appointments on Dec. 7, 2022. ABS-CBN News/file]
(From left to right) DOST Sec. Renato Solidum Jr., Energy Sec. Raphael Lotilla, and DICT Sec. Ivan John Uy's appointments were approved by the Commission on Appointments on Dec. 7, 2022. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday approved the appointments of three Cabinet members and 60 senior officials and diplomats of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

After hours of deliberation, the CA gave the green light to the ad interim appointments of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr., Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, and Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy.

Aside from the three Cabinet secretaries, the ad interim appointments and nomination of 13 ambassadors and several other DFA officials were also approved.

This included the appointment of former DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as the Philippines' Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Evangelina Lourdes "Luli" Arroyo Bernas as the country's Ambassador to Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Slovak Republic.

Arroyo-Bernas is the only daughter of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Their appointments were approved even as the CA hearing was disrupted by a magnitude 5.3 earthquake that shook parts of Luzon and Visayas, including the whole Metro Manila.

The CA was deliberating on the appointment of Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista when the earthquake struck. 

Despite the CA deliberations resuming after the quake, it decided to postpone hearing Bautista's appointment due to time constraints. 

WHAT LAWMAKERS ASKED

During the deliberation, Lotilla's commitment to revise some policies on energy was sought by some CA members, including the selection of electric cooperative presidents.

In response, he vowed to review the operation of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or WESM. 

Responding to Sen. JV Ejercito's question about his plan to address global warming, Lotilla said the country's commitment to tap renewable energy continues.

He said that by 2030, it is projected that 35 percent of the country's energy mix is from renewables. A decade later, it should reach 50 percent already.

Solidum, for his part, was asked by Rep. Rodante Marcoleta regarding the food of astronauts.

"I am thinking aloud, na kung sakaling makaimbento tayong mga kinakain nila, ibibigay ko po sa mahihirap na kababayan natin. Even for months hindi sila kakain, hindi sila mamamatay. Meron ba tayo nun? Makakagawa ba tayo ganun?" the lawmaker inquired.

"What we have right now is meals ready to eat for disasters, vitamins that have shelf life of six months and hindi na po lulutuin," Solidum replied.

"Ibig kong sabihin, minsan lang kakainin, aabot ng 6 months? Kasi astronauts, 'pag kinain ngayon, it will last for several days, if not months," said Marcoleta.

"Kasi yung mahirap na mahirap talaga, hindi po talaga sila makakain. We have to fill up a gap. Kung matulungan natin poorest of the poor... kapag ininom ng mahirap, in two weeks lang, Mr. Secretary, na hindi siya bumili ng pagkain, hindi siya nagluto, malaking bagay na po yun. Makakagawa kaya tayo ng ganun?"

Solidum responded, "We have to look into that, Mr. Chair, because we are into nutrition and food security. So, we'll ask our scientists what their long term program is. Food security, availability of nutritious food is really the concern of DOST."

Solidum also received a query from another lawmaker regarding volcanoes.

"Out of curiosity, Mr.Chairman, gusto ko tanungin, yung material na ginagamit sa rocket that can hold a heat in going to moon or saan yung exploration na yun, yung material na yun, 'di ba gawin natin yun sa mga bulkan, na bubutasan yung bulkan, lalabas yung lava para hindi na pumutok yung bulkan. Mayroon po kaya? Kasi, curious lang," said Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo 

"Imagine, hindi natutunaw yun eh. Cold or hot, kayang kaya pumunta ng rocket doon tapos babalik. Eh kung 'di kaya natin subukan yan sa bulkan, bubutasan, lalabas yung lava para hindi na puputok yung bulkan," he continued.

Solidum said that is impossible, adding, "the energy below the volcano is more enormous than whatever crater we want to do. If lava would come out and go to another part, we cannot control it. In fact, it might actually cause the volcano to explode."

Meanwhile, Solidum told the CA members that the government's Balik Scientist program has been successful, saying that over the last three years, more than 140 scientists have come home.

He cited the case of some researchers whose inventions like a mobile laboratory for the African Swine Fever were already found useful for the country. The laboratory is currently in Mindanao to detect potential ASF cases.
 

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