CA approves Cordoba, Ople appointments
BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO
The Manila Times
MIGRANT Workers Secretary Maria Susana “Toots” Ople and Commission on Audit (CoA) Chairman Gamaliel Cordoba got the approval of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to head their respective agencies. Ople and Cordoba on Tuesday faced the CA, which deliberated on their ad interim appointments as head of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and CoA, respectively. However, the CA suspended the deliberation of the ad interim appointment of Raphael Lotilla as Department of Energy (DoE) secretary for lack of time. Over 10 lawmakers were scheduled to ask questions to Lotilla, but only three were able to deliberate on his appointment. The panel also has to tackle the opposition to Lotilla’s appointment filed by former DoE undersecretary Petronilo Ilagan, now president of the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms. Ople, daughter of the late Senate president Blas Ople who was Labor secretary in the 1970s and early 1980s, has been hailed by concerned sectors as the woman “tailor-fitted for the job.” “When my father — the late and former Senate president Ka Blas Ople — died on Dec. 14, 2013, I pledged to dedicate my life to helping our migrant workers,” the DMW chief said. “It was and continues to be my way of honoring him, of keeping him close to me, and remembering the legacy he worked hard for,” she said. Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Tolentino appealed to concerned sectors not to weaponize the CoA report against elected public officials. The senator deplored that CoA reports were being used against elected government officials. “CoA reports should really be seen as a tool for good governance and not just a means or a weapon for harassment,” Tolentino said. “It can be done, it should be done ... that positive CoA audit report should be coming out from your office as a tool for development, not just a tool for harassment and proliferation of negativity, especially among local chief executives,” he said. Tolentino, being a former local chief executive, said he sympathized with many local officials who have been “harassed, besmirched and victimized” using the CoA reports. Senate President Pro Tempore Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda, chairman of the Commission on Appointments’ Committee on Energy, granted Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito’s motion to suspend the deliberation of Lotilla’s designation since there were CA members who still have questions to ask the nominee. Lotilla was the second appointee of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whose appointment was suspended by the body. The first was Erwin Tulfo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development who was questioned on his citizenship and his convictions on four counts of libel. Legarda said the mandate of the DoE secretary is to prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects, and activities of the state relative to energy exploration, development, utilization, distribution and conservation. She said the DoE “requires a leader who can champion sustainable energy policies while steering the energy industry towards becoming energy resilient and independent in the face of both energy crisis, a climate crisis and a spate of oil price hikes.” Sen. Francis Joseph “Chiz” Escudero asked Lotilla for his view on encouraging more competition between energy cooperatives in the country. Escudero brought up franchise issues surrounding two energy cooperatives in Iloilo where Congress, in the past, chose to grant only one franchise.