Bersamin, Diokno hurdle CA

The Commission on Appointment on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim appointments of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

During the deliberation for his confirmation, Bersamin assured the public that President Ferdinand Marcos is “seriously considering” appointing someone to oversee the Department of Agriculture, an agency he concurrently chairs.

“The President is seriously considering several people to appoint on a permanent basis or regular basis who will represent or minister the DA portfolio,” Bersamin told the CA panel when asked about when the president will appoint a DA chief.

“But he has not yet signified to us that he is ready to announce his decision,” he added without disclosing the names of those shortlisted for the post.

Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos raised the slow-pacing appointments of officials to key government agencies, particularly the Department of Health.

Like the DA, the president has yet to name his choice for the DoH — the main government agency that handles the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response.

Bersamin, in response, said Marcos is being “careful” in appointing government officials that will complete his Cabinet.

He said that the administration is keen to fill up the vacancies in the Cabinet by yearend, adding that this would prevent them from “committing” mistakes.

“Because we have had these unfortunate experiences, very few, where the appointees were unworthy or turned out to have been charged in so many cases in the courts or administratively,” said Bersamin.

“That’s what we avoid because that embarrasses the President and the administration. The length of time that is added to this may not be much but the volume of the applicants simply must be so attended to,” he added.

The former Chief Justice also said that the administration is not purposely delaying the appointments for these departments, attributing the problem to the lack of transition with Vic Rodriguez, his predecessor.

The deliberation for the confirmation of Bersamin was finished in less than an hour as CA members expressed their support for his nomination for the post.

The recommendation for his confirmation was moved by Representative Manuel Sagarbarria, chairman of the CA committee on Executive Secretary and Presidential Communications Offices of the Office of the President, and the Philippine Space Agency.

Meanwhile, the CA also approved the ad interim appointment of Diokno, a day after the President debunked rumors that the former is being replaced as Finance department chief.

Diokno’s confirmation was recommended by Senator Marcos to the plenary, who chairs the CA finance committee.

“These are indeed tough and uncertain times that will challenge even the toughest and men most certain in their competence, experience and commitment,” Marcos said.

“As such, it is imperative that our secretary of Finance and the head of the department tasked to formulate fiscal and tax policies as well as to manage public debt should not only be a seasoned public servant and public finance but also a person clearly committed to the pursuit of excellence,” she added.

Likewise, Senator Jinggoy Estrada vouched for Diokno’s vast experience who served as Secretary of Budget and Management under President Rodrigo Duterte and Joseph Estrada.
“I think he is one of the best Cabinet secretaries under the administration of my father,” Estrada said.

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