CA confirms Jimenez DOT chief; OK, too, as DOH headBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez’s reply to a question about his position on the reproductive health (RH) bill almost got him confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) as head of the Department of Health (DOH).
A CA member, Tarlac Representative Rodante Marcoleta, perused Jimenez’s documentary requirements prior to the commission’s hearing Wednesday and noticed that the secretariat indicated that the secretary of the Department of Tourism was a “devout Roman Catholic and a responsible family man.”
Call it curiosity but Marcoleta then asked Jimenez about his position on the RH bill, provoking laughter among those present.
Jimenez calmly rested his elbows before the microphone and replied.
“The proper response is to cite the very first book of the Bible, which says when everything started, God created life. Then He created the heavens and the earth,” the secretary began.
“Then the animals and when He had all of that, it was then and only then that He brought man into the world. Our Lord was the very first responsible parent in human history,” Jimenez concluded to wild applause.
His answer obviously touched a chord in the heart of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, the chamber’s most rabid critic of the use of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.
“With that, I recommend approval,” Sotto, who is also a CA member, blurted out.
“I was really going to vote in favor (of Jimenez’s confirmation) but hearing that, we should have approved (his nomination) two years ago,” he added.
Jimenez has spent nearly a year as head of the Department of Tourism (DOT). His entry into the Cabinet last year provoked controversy after CA member Senator Panfilo Lacson noted that Jimenez took his oath of office while Congress was still in session.
Lacson explained then that a Cabinet appointee would have to wait until Congress was on recess before taking his oath. Otherwise, it is considered illegal.
Despite Sotto’s exuberance, Marcoleta remained unimpressed by Jimenez’s answer and told colleagues on the commission that the secretary “has not made a position” on the RH bill.
“But isn’t it obvious,” Sotto shot back.
Undaunted, Marcoleta turned to Jimenez and said his statement about God being a responsible parent was not a categorical position on the RH bill.
Jimenez was about to elaborate on his answer when Valenzuela Representative Rex Gatchalian, chair of the CA committee on tourism and economic development, asserted that the secretary “has already answered in that context.”
Gatchalian then urged his fellow congressman to have “a deeper discussion” with Jimenez on the RH bill after the session.
From DOT to DOH
Palawan Representative Antonio Alvarez raised his hand and said that if Marcoleta insists on engaging Jimenez in a debate over the RH bill, “I will move that the nomination of Secretary Jimenez be moved from DOT to DOH.”
Prior to this exchange, two CA members—Senators Franklin Drilon and Joker Arroyo—took turns crediting Jimenez for crafting their campaign slogans in the previous elections.
Drilon said Jimenez’s agency thought of his tagline “Big Man sa Senado” in 2001. Same with Arroyo’s catchy slogan “Kung Bad Ka, Lagot Ka!” that same year.
Jimenez’s think tank was also the one that came up with the DOT’s hit catchphrase “It’s More Fun In The Philippines.”
Slogan for Palawan
The reminiscing pushed Representative Alvarez to ask Jimenez to think of a slogan for Palawan, specifically his district where famous beaches El Nido, Calamian and Coron were located.
Not to be outdone, Marcoleta urged Jimenez to also think of a project to promote his province Tarlac.
“We are landlocked. We don’t even have a beach. What can you consider for Central Luzon, particularly Tarlac to become a tourism spot,” the congressman asked.
Jimenez said tourism did not simply rely on the locale with the attraction.
“Please keep in mind some provinces can derive tremendous income in supporting or supplying provinces for tourism. A province can host a sector for crafts, a sector for training, a center for farms to table production…” he said.
“Just because a place is not the one visited doesn’t mean it doesn’t have participation in tourism. We need a lot of resources from everyone to support the touristic areas,” Jimenez noted with sympathy.
The secretary also said “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” was not directed exclusively to foreign tourists.
“This is in fact the most crucial part of the equation. (The slogan) is directed at the Filipino because it needed their support to work. We are still in the process of propagating that,” he added.
Originally posted at 09:20 pm | Wednesday, September 05, 2012