Roxas gets CA nod as DILG chiefBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – The powerful Commission on Appointment has confirmed the appointment of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago withdrew her motion to block his nomination.
Santiago initially invoked the one-person veto power of a member of the committee as provided for under Section 20 of the rules but later withdrew it after Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III appealed to reconsider her motion.
Sotto is chairman of the CA’s committee on interior and local government, which recommended Roxas’ nomination for plenary approval.
“Mr. President, as a senator, I consider myself deeply insulted by the action of Malacañang in deciding collectively among the Cabinet that they would snub my committee hearing on former DILG Undersecretary,” Santiago said, referring to resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno.
“I now want to stand by the principle that the executive branch of the government can’t effectively prevent the legislative branch from holding an inquiry in aid of legislation, the constitutionally protected power simply by agreeing among themselves selves that they will not show up,” she said.
This was very clear, Santiago said, in a letter of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa supposedly demanding a resolution from Santiago’s committee on constitutional amendments to justify an investigation on Puno.
Roxas was among those invited in the hearing but declined, saying he has yet to formally assume the post as new Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
“…He (Ochoa) demanded, number one, where is your resolution? Ha? Malacañang is now telling me how to conduct my investigation?” Santiago asked.
“I resent that a certain person can’t be investigated on the mere say so of the Cabinet. Who is he? Untouchable?”
“I deeply regret also I had to take counter action by announcing that as a member of the CA, I will exercise my power of one person veto over all the Cabinet member that I summoned but who did not appear. Unfortunately, first in the list is Senator Mar Roxas of the DILG,” she said.
Next in line, she said, are Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who were invited but did not show up in the hearing.
After Santiago’s motion, the Commission suspended its proceeding and when it resumed, Sotto made an appeal to the lady senator.
“I’d like to appeal to the graciousness of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, may I move or ask that the invocation of Section 20 will be withdrawn?” asked Sotto.
But Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who presided over the session, said it was only Santiago who could withdraw her own motion.
At that point, Santiago said: “Mr. President, my high intelligence quotient dictates that I should reconsider and therefore withdraw my motion to suspend…”
Aside from Roxas, the CA also confirmed the appointment of new Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Abaya replaced Roxas as Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication before the latter was appointed at the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Both Abaya and Roxas belonged to President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party.