CA will become irrelevant

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A Cabinet member warned yesterday that the Commission on Appointments may be reduced to irrelevance unless it can improve and speed up the process for confirming presidential appointees.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said that while the delay in confirming high public officials may impair their effectiveness in discharging their official duties, it can also backfire on the CA because its usefulness is placed under a cloud of doubt.

Lotilla made the scathing observation in the light of the fact that 12 Cabinet members or about half of the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo remain confirmed, many for more than two years since they were nominated to their posts.

“When the process becomes unduly delayed or you have been bypassed many times, and it is seen as an expression of lack of support, then it tends to undermine your effectiveness,” he told newsmen after the taping of the television show “Cabinet Speaks.”

“On the other hand, it also tends to work against the confirmation process because people will tend to think it doesn’t really matter at all whether you are confirmed or not because you can continue to exercise your functions. You are reappointed by the President after being bypassed by the commission.”

The energy secretary cited the flaws in the confirmation process in the wake of the expose of Negros Oriental Rep. Herminio Teves about the alleged unethical practice of some members of the House contingent in the CA to extort money, positions and other favors from Cabinet and other presidential appointees in exchange for their confirmation.

Lotilla expressed frustration over the fact that his confirmation is still hanging in the bicameral commission more than two years after he became energy czar. He said he has lost count on the number of times he has been reappointed by the President upon the adjournment of Congress after being bypassed by this constitutional body.

“If we are to enhance the value of the confirmation process as provided for in the Constitution, it can be exercised in a more timely fashion,” he said.

Lotilla, who once served as director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said he recognized the importance of the process of reviewing and confirming presidential appointments as part of the constitutional doctrine of checks and balance between the executive and legislative branches of government.

He said that the current controversy over the alleged abuses in the CA may have a positive consequences in terms of prodding the congressional leaders into plugging the loopholes in the confirmation profess.

“I am inclined to think that after the debate and discussion, we will have a far healthier relationship between the Commission on Appointments and the prospective appointees. And the rules of engagement will be better defined. So let us look at it on the positive side.”