CA bypasses Agrarian chief


THE Commission on Appointments on Wednesday bypassed the ad interim appointment of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said one of the CA members insisted on the need for Castriciones to submit documents on the number of beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program that the latter failed to provide in the previous CA hearing.

“It could pop up. Majority Floorleader Congressman Rod Albano said there could be a situation that because he cannot provide the document, one of us might invoke Section 20 during the plenary,” Zubiri said.

He said one of the panel members whom he declined to identity threatened to invoke Section 20 of the CA rules which would mean outright rejection of the nominee.

“Technically a veto vote means vetoing the entire process. We don’t want that to happen. That would embarrass the secretary. So what we did was (to agree) to conduct another hearing when Congress resumes session in May,” Zubiri said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives adjourned sessions on Wednesday for a seven-week break. Congress will reopen on May 14.

Asked about his being bypassed by the CA, Castriciones said, “I don’t’ know. They adjourned already. Of course it is their right. We have to respect and abide by whatever decisions they made.”

“Of course, I am hopeful. I am praying to the Lord if it is really my destiny to help and contribute in the resolution of the problems with regards to agrarian issues. Then hopefully if I will be confirmed I will put into action of whatever plans that are necessary in order to alleviate the status of our farmers,” he added.

Castriciones, 56, replaced Rafael Mariano who was rejected by the CA. Prior to his appointment to head DAR, he was undersecretary in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and national president of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) which promotes federalism.

Before adjourning, the CA approved the nomination of Manuel Antonio Javier Teehankee as the Philippines’ permanent representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO


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