Lacson questions appointment of new tourism chief | Inquirer News
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Lacson questions appointment of new tourism chief

By: - Reporter / @KatyYam
/ 04:16 AM September 07, 2011

Malacañang was wrong to administer the oath of office to newly designated Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez when Jimenez had not yet been confirmed by the congressional Commission on Appointments, Sen. Panfilo Lacson warned Tuesday.

Lacson said Jimenez, who was appointed to replace Alberto Lim and who took his oath last Monday, was only a nominee and therefore cannot take the oath yet.

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“I think the [justice] secretary should advise Mon Jimenez to get out of the DOT compound fast because he is (only) a nominee,” Lacson said.

“Congress is in session. He is not an ad interim appointment. He cannot take over (the DOT) until the CA confirms his nomination,” the senator added.

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However, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s remark on Tuesday that Congress was in recess last week would seem to make the issue moot.

Enrile said the short hiatus taken by the Senate last week as a result of the long weekend at the end of August constituted a recess.

The Senate did not hold sessions from Aug. 29 to 31. “Congress was in recess,” Enrile said.

The CA is the legislative body created by the 1987 Constitution that approves Cabinet and high-ranking military appointments.

Under CA rules, anyone named to a Cabinet post while Congress is in session only serves in an acting capacity and cannot take an oath yet.

Only when Congress is not in session can Malacañang issue an ad interim appointment to a Cabinet official. If he is not confirmed when Congress resumes session, his appointment needs to be re-submitted.

According to the CA website, what the President submits to the body is just a nomination. Only after the CA has given its consent to the nomination will the President issue the appointment. It is only when this last stage is completed that the appointed officer can take his oath of office.

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Lacson, who is a CA member, raised Jimenez’s oath-taking at the hearing of the justice department budget yesterday. He asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima whether Jimenez’s act of taking the oath was legal.

“If he is in an acting capacity, yes, it would be defensible,” De Lima replied.

Presidential Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang on Tuesday confirmed that Jimenez had been appointed in an acting capacity, in reaction to Lacson’s statements.

“I believe that that was the reason why Secretary Jimenez has been appointed in an acting capacity because Congress is in session. I believe that the appointment was proper and legal,” Carandang told a news briefing. With a report from Norman Bordadora

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TAGS: congressional Commission on Appointments, Department of Tourism, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez
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