MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should stop reappointing Cabinet officials who have been repeatedly rejected by the congressional Commission on Appointments, according to Senate President Manuel Villar.
This showed disrespect for the Constitution aside from breeding overconfidence among her appointees who know they would always get another Cabinet post, Villar said at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado.
“This is not good practice. It is important that as high-ranking government officials they respect the Constitution. The CA was created to have a check-and-balance and to review the capabilities of the appointees of the Executive. It is not just there for decoration,” Villar said.
He cited the case of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes who has been appointed to four Cabinet posts in the past six years, has gotten CA approval twice but has also been rejected repeatedly.
Villar noted that of all past presidents only Ms Arroyo had this “kind of attitude” about the CA process.
“In the past administrations, they were afraid to do this. But now, it seems there is no fear and there is no respect for our laws. This is why the appointees have taken advantage of the President’s attitude and sought reappointment. Obviously, a Cabinet member doing this has the approval of the President,” said Villar.
With the President reappointing those rejected by the CA, Villar said the non-confirmed Cabinet secretaries have become “bolder because they know they will be reappointed again.”
Aside from Reyes, other Cabinet Secretaries that have been bypassed again and again by the CA are Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.
Reyes, the Armed Forces chief of staff whose withdrawal of support for deposed President Joseph Estrada paved the way for Ms Arroyo’s assumption to the presidency in 2001, has been given charge of four portfolios in the past six years — defense, interior and local government, environment and energy. He was confirmed twice, as defense secretary and interior secretary.
“He did good as chief of staff but being an energy secretary is a different thing,” said Villar.
Villar acknowledged that the Senate cannot do anything about the appointment of Reyes and that of other Cabinet secretaries who are rejected by the CA if the President continues to reappoint them.