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Sep 20th
Home Columns Ike Señeres Trust and Accountability
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Columns - Ike Señeres
Written by Ike Señeres   
Friday, 04 June 2010 17:30


No Holds Barred (071)

By Ike Señeres


Trust and Accountability


In the matter of appointments to the Cabinet, the legal fiction prevails that the nominee, or rather the ministry of the nominee is an extension of the personality of the President, and it is for this reason that the nominee should hold his full trust and confidence. While it is the prerogative of the President to nominate whoever he thinks would hold his trust, the performance and actions of the nominee is also his accountability.


Much has been said about the pros and cons of appointing former allies of Gloria into the Cabinet, and more so in the reappointment of incumbent members of her Cabinet into the incoming official family of the perceived front runner of the presidential race. The bottom line here is that it is the prerogative of the appointing authority, with the caveat that he has to answer for whatever the nominee does or does not do while he is in office.


The legal fiction also prevails that the President is merely the appointing authority, but whoever he appoints still has to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA). Upon confirmation, it is presumed that the Executive prerogative of appointing whoever he wants is in effect substantiated by the independent authority of the Legislative Branch to confirm the nominations.


Many say that one of the major challenges of perceived presidential front runner Noynoy Aquino is the restoration of institutions that have been destroyed, ignored or bastardized by Gloria. While it is really up to the Legislative Branch to restore the full authority of the CA as an institution, I believe that Noynoy should start the restoration process by not allowing his nominees to hold office until they are confirmed by the CA.


P erhaps it is only in the Philippines where vehicles without official license plates are allowed to go around the streets, for as long as they have makeshift plates saying that it is FOR REGISTRATION. In the same manner that these vehicles should not be allowed to roam the streets until they are registered, cabinet nominees should also not be allowed to sit.


In so many instances in the past, cabinet nominees of Gloria were allowed to assume office even if they were bypassed by the CA, by way of using the legal fiction that they are only holding their offices in an acting capacity. I believe that this practice is fundamentally wrong, because they are not supposed to disburse funds and make critical decisions until they are finally confirmed by the CA.


As part of rebuilding our damaged institutions, Noynoy should now avoid reappointing nominees who are bypassed by the CA on the third attempt. If he will continue the practice of Gloria to perpetually reappoint his nominees after they are bypassed for so many times, he will in effect destroy the purpose of having checks and balances between the independent branches of the government.


While it is in effect an insult to the Legislative Branch to ignore the authority of the CA, I believe that it is also in effect an insult to the bureaucracy to ignore the fact that there are career Undersecretaries who could very well run the respective Departments while the Cabinet nominees are not yet confirmed, thus removing the need for them to sit in an acting capacity.


It is not surprising that Noynoy has announced his intention to reappoint Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo. He appears to have the trust and confidence of Noynoy, and it is well within his prerogative to reappoint Secretary Romulo if he wants to. However, given the parameters that I have mentioned earlier, Romulo should take the initiative of not holding office until he is confirmed by the CA, and he should take the lead by not agreeing to function in an acting capacity in the meantime.


I believe that it is unfair to simply brand Romulo as the Chief Diplomat of Gloria, and on that basis conclude that he should not be reappointed. I believe that when he was confirmed by the CA, he in effect became the Chief Diplomat of the Republic, fully vested by the Legislative Branch, and, therefore, no longer just the private diplomat of Gloria. As the institutional process goes, it should be up to the CA whether to confirm him or not, and if he is indeed confirmed, he should be allowed to reassume his post, period. # # #


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Last Updated on Friday, 04 June 2010 17:34

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