June 24, 2017, 3:08 am
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Cayetano breezes through confirmation

SEN. Alan Peter Cayetano breezed through his confirmation hearing as the new Foreign Affairs secretary yesterday, getting the nod of the Commission on Appointments in just three minutes.

Cayetano arrived at the Senator Ambrosio Padilla Room of the Senate at 9 a.m. and was not even seated when Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, a CA member, said: “I move to recommend to the plenary the confirmation of the nomination of Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, even without him sitting there.”

As the audience laughed and applauded, and as Cayetano was taking his seat, CA chair Sen. Panfilo Lacson, said: “There is a motion to recommend to the plenary the confirmation of the nomination of Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Is there any objection? Hearing none, congratulations, Secretary Cayetano.”

Things were over by 9:03 a.m., in stark contrast to the confirmation hearings of former DFA secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. who was grilled at length by CA members about his US citizenship before his nomination was rejected last March 8.

Among those present were Cayetano’s wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, and Department of Foreign Affairs acting secretary Enrique Manalo, who will officially turn over the post to the senator.

Lacson’s endorsement was supported by CA vice chairman San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, Sens. Ralph Recto and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“In his new post, trust me he will know when to press our country’s position loudly and when to present it in a low-key manner…He will be steadfast in defending what’s ours,” Zamora said.

Cayetano vowed to continue helping President Duterte fulfill his promise of promoting the welfare of the Filipino people, as well as the country’s national sovereignty and interest, territorial integrity, and national security.

He said as the incoming DFA secretary, he will introduce initiatives aimed at “advocating and pushing for our national interest, strengthening our bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries and organizations around the world, and of course the protection, welfare, and comfort of our Filipinos overseas, particularly our modern day heroes.”

Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III said the confirmation of Secretaries Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial,    Rafael Mariano,    and Judy Taguiwalo     were deemed bypassed.

Sotto said the CA has decided to first resolve the resolution of Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV seeking to review the secret balloting rules of the bicameral body before they could tackle the nominations of the three Cabinet secretaries.

“It’s an inevitable consequence that they are bypassed. The CA has decided to resolve the resolution of Sen. Aquino. In order to do that, the committee on rules has to meet and finally come up with a solution and then recommend to the members. We cannot do that in a week’s time. So we cannot vote next week and the week after,” Sotto said.

Ubial’s confirmation was deferred yesterday after the CA health panel tackled only the opposition of Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque who accused her of corruption, incompetence, wastage of government resources and lying before Congress.

Ubial is also facing opposition from ACTS OFW partylist Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III and Restituto Mendoza.

Roque raised issues concerning the Zika virus, the P3-billion dengue vaccination program in which he said Ubial had given conflicting statements, her refusal to implement the Universal Health Care Law and alleged illegal appointments of 111 officials to   positions in the Health Department, which is now the subject of an investigation by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

He also cited her alleged excessive foreign trips, saying that due to her frequent travels she has not been on top of the Expanded Immunization Program (EPI) since she became DOH secretary.

The appointments of Taguiwalo and Mariano were also not tackled due to lack of time.

The “Profile and Investigation Report” (PIR) received by the CA on Taguiwalo personality alleged that she courted the father of her second child. The report was based on the research conducted by the “Appointment Review and Investigation Service” of the CA.

“Characterized as a self-confessed feminist, who was reportedly the one who courted the father of her second child as part of her principle that women were not doomed to wait for their prince charming to come,” the report said.
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