THE Commission on Appointments (CA) is likely to bypass the ad-interim appointments of three cabinet members as congress goes on sine die adjournment on June 2, ending the first regular session of the 17th congress.
Among those who may not be accommodated by the CA are Secretaries Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial of the Department of Health (DOH), Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Senate Majority leader and CA’s assistant majority leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said that the appointments body decided to resolve first the resolution filed recently by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 3rd regarding the secret voting rule adopted by the body.
“We cannot do that in a week’s time. So we cannot vote next week and the week after. It’s useless unless we already resolve the issue of secret balloting,” he explained.
Aquino recently filed a resolution calling for a review of the amended rules on executive session and action on referral of nominations or appointments, which allow secret voting via ballot.
The senator described the secret voting system as “problematic” in the confirmation of ex-environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez, who was rejected by the CA.
But Sen. Franklin Drilon said that he does not see the resolution of Aquino as a hindrance to the confirmation of cabinet members.
The CA committees on labor, employment and social welfare and health were supposed to resume hearing Ubial and Taguiwalo’s appointments the proceedings were not finished for lack of time.
The panel also was not able to tackle the appointment of Taguiwalo.
The CA committee on health chaired by Sen. Gringo Honasan 2nd suspended the consideration of Ubial’s nomination in order to give time to members of the panel to discuss the issues raised against her by oppositors.
There were three sworn opposition submitted to the committee by Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque, ACTS OFW Partylist Rep. Aniceto Bertiz 3d and Restituto Mendoza, questioning Ubial’s fitness to head the DOH.
But it was only Roque who was able to present his opposition. He cited several reasons why the appointments body should not confirm Ubial, who according to him has a propensity to lie to hide her incompetence.
Among the issues raised by the lawmaker was her inability to come up with factual information about the presence of Zika virus in the country.
Roque accused Ubial of lying to the public when she declared that Zika virus is not endemic to the Philippines and that there were no local cases of the viral infection. Her subordinates at the DoH contradicted her.
He also cited Ubial’s inconsistent statements on the P3-billion dengue vaccination program, at one point calling for its suspension but later on saying it should push through.
Roque also accused Ubial of neglecting the Expanded Program of Immunization) of the DoH, which resulted in the shortage of regular vaccines for the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, and her failure to implement the Universal Health Care Law.
Ubial dismissed the allegations as incorrect. (J. Antiporda, MT)