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Who says career officials are shielded from politics?

/ 12:18 AM February 13, 2016

This Refers to the news report titled “Drilon wants CA rules amended” (Second Front Page, 2/5/16).

What we wished for deserving presidential appointees was their confirmation, without a hitch, in February 2016, by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA). The wish turned out to be just wishful thinking!

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“Blocked” on Feb 3 (of all days!), the last Senate session day before the 2016 elections, were four career diplomats designated to represent, not President Aquino or the winner of the May presidential election, but the 103 million or so people who consider themselves Filipinos.

The countries they are assigned to may not be as “powerful” as the United States, Japan or China. But they—Malaysia, Spain, Kenya and Chile—equally deserve  an official envoy. Besides, the diplomatic postings in these countries have concurrent jurisdiction over Philippine missions in 19 other nations, or a total of 23 countries. The 23, likely destinations of Filipino workers, mostly caregivers and craftsmen, can be close allies and friends, not enemies of the Philippines.

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Also deferred were those of Commissioners Nieves Osorio and Isabel Dasalla Agito of the Civil Service Commission and the Commission on Audit (COA), respectively.

Agito, appointed by President Aquino only last Jan. 16, or two weeks before the Senate’s last session (it “goes on sine die adjournment in June”) is a belated replacement for Heidi Mendoza who, in October 2015, accepted (good for her) a five-year nonrenewable post in New York as chief of the Internal Oversight Services of the United Nations (“Heidi’s UN stint puts CA on the spot,” Letters, 10/22/15). The ad interim COA commissioner, a lawyer, once served as senior external auditor at the UN Board of Auditors.

As the bypass was unexpected, the Palace must have been surprised.

Sen Jinggoy Estrada set the stage for Mendoza’s bypass in the CA in the same way Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile invoked Section 20 (alien to us) to “block” the confirmation of the six civilian-career officials until the May 25 resumption of the sessions (which, by then, are expected to already focus on the canvassing of votes; just imagine the mad scramble and jockeying by that time). But he spared 28 from the military.

—MANUEL BONDAD, Makati City

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TAGS: Commission on Appointments (CA), politics
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