Gonzalez finally gets opposition nod in CA

DoE’s Reyes blocked again

By Veronica Uy
First Posted 01:57pm (Mla time) 06/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines — After 19 ad interim appointments, four hearings, and one kidney transplant, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez finally got the nod of opposition senators in the justice committee of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

The committee, headed by opposition Senator Panfilo Lacson, on Wednesday recommended plenary action on Gonzalez’s appointment.

However, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes was not as lucky.

The committee on energy rescheduled the confirmation hearing for him in July, when Congress resumes session after sine die.

Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada were true to their word that they would block Reyes’s confirmation at all costs.

Gonzalez’ appointment now needs to go through plenary next week.

Lacson said that, despite previous disagreements, he admires Gonzalez for being someone who “works hard and likes his work.” He said this trait was particularly apparent when Gonzalez returned to work not long after his transplant.

Estrada also told the CA committee he is giving his “yes” vote to Gonzalez’s confirmation because the justice secretary should be able “to enjoy his last days on earth.”

He echoed Lacson’s humanitarian reasons for acting positively on Gonzalez’s appointment.

The committee’s recommendation came despite written and oral opposition from leftist party-list representatives Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna (People First) and Liza Maza of Gabriela.

Ocampo said Gonzalez is unfit for an office the leftist lawmaker said the justice secretary has used to persecute President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s political opposition.

“This is important to us and to the memory of (the late Anakpawis Representative) Crispin Beltran, who was a victim of the acts of the justice secretary and was under police detention for one and a half years,” Ocampo said.

Maza, for her part, said Gonzalez has continually belittled women, citing Nicole, the complainant in the Subic rape case.

“This is not expected from someone holding such an important position,” Maza said.

Lawyers Bonifacio Alentajan and Ferrer Co also appeared before the CA to manifest their opposition to Gonzalez’ appointment.

After the CA committee recommendation, an obviously disappointed Alentajan said, “The country lost a good fight. Truly, we get the country we deserve.”

Meanwhile, Chairman Jose Melo of the Commission on Elections was asked to return on Tuesday for questioning by the CA’s committee on suffrage.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the committee, said elections commissioner Moslemen Macarambon will also be asked to attend the Tuesday hearing to answer questions from Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile and Richard Gordon.

Cayetano said it is still uncertain whether the two poll officials will be included among the 100 or so government and military officials whose appointments and nominations will be confirmed by the CA during Wednesday’s plenary session.


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