Paper work, local politics slowed down Robredo’s confirmation—SottoBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Lawmakers who lavished Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo with praise for his track record as a public servant rushed to explain on Tuesday why they sat on Robredo’s confirmation as a Cabinet secretary at the Commission on Appointments for two years until he died in a plane crash on Saturday.
Senator Vicente Sotto III, the Senate majority floor leader and the chairman of the bicameral body’s committee on interior and local government, said it took Malacañang more than a year since Aquino assumed office on June 30, 2010, to submit Robredo’s appointment for approval by the CA.
“It’s not difficult to have him confirmed. It was just a matter of time. It was just a matter of timing,” Sotto told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Sotto said Robredo would have been confirmed both by his committee and by the CA itself on August 29. The senator said the committee hearing on Robredo’s appointment would have just been a formality and “by lunchtime, he’d already be up for confirmation.”
Sen. Loren Legarda, a member of the CA, said Robredo had breakfast with her and members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition at her home on Saturday morning before his fateful trip to Cebu.
Legarda said she expected Robredo to be confirmed on August 29 with her sponsorship and the NPC lawmakers’ support.
“It was a warm and very light meet. I think he left my home a very happy man, looking forward to his confirmation,” Legarda said in a text message.
Legarda said Robredo discussed disaster risk reduction, complimented her for her home and enjoyed the breakfast of paksiw na bangus belly, longganisa and danggit.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, another member of the CA, also expected Robredo to have an easy time in the CA when his time came.
Asked what issues prevented Robredo from getting confirmed earlier, Lacson said, “I would not know. I had no issues with him.”
“I thought he would breeze through confirmation on August 29,” Lacson said in a text message.
Sotto cited several reasons for the delay in the confirmation of Robredo’s appointment as secretary of interior and local government.
One was the length of time—more than a year, Sotto said—before Malacañang submitted his name for CA consideration. Another was Robredo’s failure to submit requirements immediately supposedly because of the demands of his job as the overseer of public order and the local governments.
“It took some time before his name was submitted to the CA. He wasn’t among those that were submitted in July 2010,” Sotto said.
“And when his name was already submitted, it also took some time for him to submit his requirements. I always consulted with him… and he’d tell me he had a lot of things to attend to,” he added.
Sotto also disclosed that local politics in Camarines Sur played a role.
He said lawmakers in the CA agreed that Robredo, an official of the Liberal Party and also a Bicolano from Naga, must resolve political issues with Camarines Sur Representative Luis Villafuerte Sr. and Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr. before facing the CA.
The elder Villafuerte is a member of the CA, representing the House of Representatives.
“It’s not about [the creation of a new] Camarines province. It involves local politics involving Robredo as an official of the LP, Congressman Villafuerte as a member of the [Nationalist People's Coalition] and Governor Villafuerte as a member of the [Nacionalista Party],” Sotto said.
He withheld further comment on the political issue, saying he wasn’t privy to the details.
Legarda said the whole NPC, including the elder Villafuerte, would have supported Robredo when his turn at the CA came.
Asked if Robredo would have been confirmed, Legarda said, “Yes, because the whole NPC will support him. Even Louie Villafuerte committed though he was not in the breakfast meet.”
“I said I will co-sponsor [Robredo’s} nomination via a speech,” Legarda said.
Tags: Airplane Crash , Commission on Appointments , Congress , death , Department of Interior and Local Government , Government , Jesse Robredo , Loren Legarda , Philippines , Politics , Senate , Vicente Sotto III