Senators call on Aquino to quickly fill DILG postBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senators on Tuesday urged President Aquino to fill immediately the post of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Rebredo, saying urgent peace and order problems could not be handled by remote control from the Palace.
“I hope the next secretary would not go through the painful experience of being ‘acting.’ It means (the appointing power) was tentative of the appointment,” Senator Gregorio Honasan said.
Robredo was appointed to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in an acting capacity when President Aquino began his term in June 2010.
No official explanation was given and the public eventually learned that functions of the department were “divided” between Robredo and his undersecretary, Rico Puno.
Robredo was given authority over the local government aspect of the DILG while Puno was entrusted with the supervision over the Philippine National Police.
No to divided responsibilities
This arrangement was revealed after the humiliating fiasco at Rizal Park’s Quirino Grandstand on Aug. 23, 2010, when the PNP was widely criticized over its failure to subdue dismissed Police Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza who took a busload of Chinese tourists hostage. The incident left eight tourists dead. Mendoza himself was killed.
Under the law, the DILG secretary as ex-officio chairman of the National Police Commission has control and supervision over the PNP.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile hinted at this irregularity of divided responsibilities in the department in an ambush interview.
He said the DILG portfolio “does not only involve politics but also law enforcement … If it’s all politics without law enforcement, it’s tough. If it’s all law enforcement and no politics, it’s also tough,” he told reporters.
“You have to get somebody who (has) the virtuosity to handle the job, like a conductor directing (an orchestra),” Enrile explained.
Going beyond LP politics
Enrile and Honasan urged President Aquino to look beyond his allies in the Liberal Party (LP) in choosing Robredo’s replacement.
Honasan noted that although the names of potential successors being floated all seemed qualified, the “high standards set by Secretary Robredo himself should call for criteria that go beyond the vicious cycle of personality-oriented selection.”
The possible replacement include Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya and Albay Governor Joey Salceda. Abaya and Salceda are LP members. Abaya reportedly enjoys the support of the “Balay” faction in the Aquino Cabinet led by Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas.
The President designated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa OIC of DILG.
Senator Franklin Drilon said the peace and order situation urgently required a full-time interior secretary.
“I believe the vacancy should be immediately be filled. The President should be able to make the decision in the next two weeks because ideally, we cannot allow (the DILG) to be run by remote control by the Office of the Executive Secretary,” said the LP stalwart.
Drilon added that Mr. Aquino’s party could recommend a list of party mates to the DILG post “but we would leave it up to the President.”
“He has been exposed to all potential candidate in terms of policy, programs and work ethic,” Drilon said.
Honasan, however, would rather that Mr. Aquino take his time in choosing Robredo’s replacement.
He said that the President should adhere to the high standards of dedication, competence, vision and humility set by Robredo.
Honasan said Malacañang should look beyond political allies and choose the next DILG secretary who had “competence, experience and who enjoyed the trust and confidence of the political authority.”
“I think if they will tap Senator Lacson to head that department, he will do very well because he’s trained. He’s a law enforcement person and his (training was) under that department,” Enrile said.
“In terms of the political content of that function, he’s familiar with the breadth of responsibility because he’s exposed to national politics. He has met the local leaders of the country, he has gone all over the country and (understands) the problem of law and order,” he added.