The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday gave its nod to the interim appointments of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno.
During the CA hearings, senators and members of the House of Representatives lauded Bersamin for his untarnished service in the government and his stint as the 25th Supreme Court Chief Justice.
CA members also took turns in questioning Bersamin about his policies in his current position as Executive Secretary. Bersamin is the second Executive Secretary of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He succeeded lawyer Victor Rodriguez, who also served as spokesperson of the President.
Bersamin has been in the judiciary for 33 years, starting as a Regional Trial Court presiding justice and justice of the Court of Appeals.
Diokno twice served as Budget Secretary and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas chairperson under the administrations of former President Joseph Estrada and the late President Fidel Ramos.
Sen. Imee Marcos, who endorsed the confirmation of Diokno, said the country needs his capability to manage the country’s finances and debts. Facing the CA, Diokno was questioned on the ballooning debts of the country to which he responded that there’s nothing to worry about “since it is still manageable.”
He said the country posted a low debt-to-gross domestic product of 40% before the pandemic and rose to 62% after the procurement of vaccines and strengthening of health services to address COVID-19. This 62% is still manageable compared to other countries which have 100%-200% debt-to-GDP ratio like European countries, Diokno said.
The CA panel meanwhile suspended the committee hearing of Commission on Audit (COA) chair Gamaliel Cordoba because Senator Risa Hontiveros still has questions for Cordoba.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo meanwhile said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. advised him to continue doing his job even after the CA panel deferred the deliberations of his appointment.
During a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, Tulfo refrained from commenting regarding the CA’s deferment of his nomination, saying he does not want to influence or preempt the CA’s final decision.
Tulfo was questioned during a CA committee on social welfare and development hearing Tuesday regarding his citizenship and libel issues. His “very colorful love life” was also brought up.