Duterte leaves fate of 5 Cabinet officials to appointments body
President Duterte is leaving it up to the Commission on Appointments (CA) to decide the fate of his five Cabinet nominees—Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said on Tuesday that this was made perfectly clear by the President in a meeting last week with some senators.
Sotto said he had asked Mr. Duterte what he thought of the five Cabinet secretaries given they were “controversial.”
“The way I understand it, the President said, ‘I seek no favors. It’s up to you what you think on the competence and qualifications of the nominees,’” Sotto said in a phone interview.
Yasay’s confirmation hearings began last week but it was suspended after two hours as many committee members still wanted to question him.
Yasay is in hot water after documents obtained by the Inquirer showed he had acquired US citizenship, had renounced it but had not reacquired Filipino citizenship.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the Senate foreign affairs committee, said Yasay could face perjury charges if proven he lied to them.
Lopez is facing opposition from mining groups. She was supposed to face the CA committee on environment on Wednesday but the hearing was canceled on Tuesday.
Taguiwalo and Mariano, who are identified with the militant Left, became controversial when some lawmakers called for their resignation after the President suspended peace talks with communist rebels.
Some 3,500 antimining advocates converged at the Oriental Mindoro High School gymnasium on Monday to protest against destructive mining in the province in a show of support for Lopez.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the crowd was composed of civil society groups, Church leaders, local officials and mining-affected communities, including indigenous peoples on Mindoro Island. —WITH A REPORT FROM MADONNA T. VIROLA
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