MANILA, Philippines?The Social Security System (SSS) has a new president in a veteran insurance and finance executive, who is also incidentally a brother of a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
At a press conference Wednesday in Malacañang, President Benigno Aquino III said he signed the appointment of Emilio de Quiros as chief executive of the state pension fund on Tuesday.
De Quiros, 61, a former executive vice president of The Bank of the Philippine Islands and a former president of Ayala Life Assurance Inc., is a brother of Conrado de Quiros, writer of the Inquirer opinion column ?There?s the Rub? and an avowed supporter of the President.
He replaces Romulo Neri.
?I signed Emil de Quiros? appointment, if I am not mistaken, [on Tuesday]. And his being the brother of Conrad de Quiros is not relevant to his appointment as SSS [president],? Mr. Aquino said, adding:
?Conrad de Quiros is, you know, not a business columnist ... I would not ask his advice with regard to this. [Emil de Quiros] has so many other attributes.?
In the same press conference, Mr. Aquino announced the appointment of former Akbayan party-list Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales as chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and of Gina Bautista Martin as chair of the Sugar Regulatory Commission.
He said he was just waiting to sign the appointment papers of Rosales, his colleague in the House of Representatives until the 12th Congress, whom he described as having the competence and the experience to head the CHR.
Mr. Aquino said that during the 11th Congress, Rosales was ?a very active member? of the House committee on civil, political and human rights, of which he was the senior vice chair.
He said Rosales ?also became chair of that committee,? and was herself a victim of human rights violations.
Mr. Aquino described Martin as ?a small sugar planter in Negros Occidental? and an activist during the martial law years.
?She?s somebody I?ve known for a long time,? he said.
In their defense
The President also took the opportunity to defend his earlier appointees, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, the Professional Regulation Commission?s Board of Optometry member Vivian Sarabia, and Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz.
Montejo is a brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Sarabia is Mr. Aquino?s personal optometrist, and Cadiz is a longtime political ally.
?Montejo has already demonstrated his worth,? Mr. Aquino said referring to the instance when the Department of Science and Technology under Montejo recommended the rebidding for the government purchase of chemical assessment equipment because the requirements had been tailor-fit for just one contractor.
He said Sarabia was an appointee of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and vouched for her competence in the field of optometry.
As for Cadiz, Mr. Aquino wanted to know if his being a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) was not sufficient qualification for the post.
?The IBP does not qualify him? ... He took up the cudgels [for us] in a lot of issues that beset the former administration. So he is not qualified? I beg to disagree,? Mr. Aquino said.
The President also said he understood why Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was protesting the appointment of retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide as chair of the Philippine Truth Commission that will look into the irregularities that occurred during the Arroyo administration.
But he said he was standing by the competence and integrity of Davide as head of the fact-finding panel that is expected to investigate such cases as the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal and the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.
?I know where Senator Jinggoy is coming from. Nonetheless, I don?t agree with his opinion,? Mr. Aquino said.
He pointed out that Davide was a member of the commission that drew up the 1987 Constitution and was the chair of the panel that looked into the causes of military restiveness during the presidency of his late mother, Corazon Aquino.
?I believe Justice Davide has a good number of accomplishments that show his competence, and we can depend on him as the leader of the truth commission,? Mr. Aquino added.