The Commission on Appointments on Wednesday, 14 September approved the ad interim appointments of Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla as Secretary of the Department of Justice, and Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos as Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Remulla and Abalos faced the powerful constitutional body which was tasked to check the fitness of the appointees of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

‘Death sentence, illegal aliens’

During his confirmation hearing, Remulla was asked several questions about his plans for the Justice department, including controversial issues like the death penalty, red-tagging, and the International Criminal Court.

Remulla did not explicitly say whether he was in favor or against the proposed measure restoring the death penalty as capital punishment in the country. 

However, he said that it should be discussed “properly” by legislators, reiterating that such a punishment for an offense may “divide society.”

“It is up to a democratic country like ours to vote on this issue. I believe that policymakers should debate it properly and vote for it as representatives of the people but it can be debated and we should learn both sides of the debate,” he said. 

“But for the philosophical underpinnings of punishment and as a payment for the commission of a sin that is still one that will divide society forever, the body of life will always be important to all of us,” he explained.

Likewise, Remulla, who was named Secretary of Justice on 23 May by then President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., only two weeks after being reelected as representative of the 7th District of Cavite, shared with lawmakers his plans for his agency. 

To properly monitor the movements of foreign nationals in the country, he noted that a system in the Bureau of Immigration would help the government resolve its problems with foreigners involved in illegal activities.

At the moment, the Justice Secretary said that there are nearly a million illegal aliens or foreign nationals who are living in the country without official authorization.

“As a police matter, we just have to be more vigilant in the presence of these people. Your Honor, there are now 800,000 illegal aliens in the country, more than we can really imagine.  And it is a problem that we have to face head-on right now,” he said.

“These numbers of illegal aliens have to be sorted out properly, the killings now that we see on video going through the internet to our telephones is very disturbing your Honor, and we really need more police visibility and better surveillance of people just to prevent this from happening,” he added.  

Abalos too

Likewise, Abalos’ nomination was also confirmed by the Constitutional body, after the panel’s Majority Leader Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. made the motion to recommend his confirmation. 

During his confirmation, Abalos answered several questions asked by lawmakers including his plans on jail congestion, and human rights violations, among others.

Abalos also cited the lack of 5,000 body cameras for the Philippine National Police, a problem which he said will be solved by additional funding from Congress. 

Prior to his appointment, Abalos served as chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for more than a year during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

He also served as local chief executive of the City of Mandaluyong for 15 years, and for one term as Mandaluyong representative. 

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma’s confirmation was deferred due to lack of material time.

Laguesma’s confirmation hearing will resume on 20 September.

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