MANILA, Philippines—Days after reporting that the country’s economy grew by 6.6 percent in 2012, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan on Wednesday got his confirmation by the bicameral Commission on Appointments, something a few other members of President Aquino’s Cabinet have been wanting since 2010.
“I’m glad it’s over. Thank you and I’m very happy. It’s a good experience,” Balisacan told reporters after the influential body made up of senators and members of the House of Representatives approved his appointment as head of the National Economic Development Authority.
With lawmakers already taking a lengthy break for the election period and with only two session days left when Congress reconvenes briefly in June, the 15th Congress has effectively bypassed the appointments of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.
“There’s no more chance,” Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said when asked whether the appointment of the four Cabinet members could still be confirmed under the present Congress.
Sotto said those whose appointments are in line to be tackled by the CA when Congress reconvenes for a two-day session in June include only officials of the uniformed services—the military and the police—and of the foreign service.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer of the Commission on Appointments, said, however, that President Aquino’s men could still be confirmed in June.
“[We] did not have time to finish them all. We’ll try to confirm them in June when we reconvene, if they have already completed their papers,” Enrile said.
Asked if the yet-to-be-confirmed secretaries may be considered bypassed, Enrile said, “Hindi naman. It’s simply that they were not presented in the plenary at the moment.”
President Aquino appointed De Lima, Soliman and Paje when he assumed the presidency in 2010. Petilla was named energy chief when then Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almenras was made secretary to the Cabinet in 2012.
Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian, the chairman of the CA’s committee on tourism and economic development, moved for the CA to confirm Balisacan’s appointment. The CA, through its presiding officer Enrile, approved the motion after it was met with no objection.
Balisacan is a former dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics and a former executive director of the UP-based Philippine Center for Economic Development.
He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in agriculture from the Mariano Marcos State University and has a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the UP in Los Baños. He obtained his doctorate in economics from the University of Hawaii.