• Energy secretary’s confirmation hangs

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    ENERGY Secretary Jericho Petilla could be the only Cabinet member to be bypassed by the Commission on Appointments because its committee on energy has no immediate plans to confirm his appointment.

    Speaking during the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum on Thursday, Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd, chairman of the committee on energy of the CA, said he is not interested in scheduling the confirmation hearing of Petilla and no committee member is asking for it.

    “I’m waiting for a member of the CA to ask me for a hearing but the way I look at it, it will be useless because the question I will be asking him [Petilla] will just embarrass him . . . ” Osmena added.

    The senator said he is not in favor of confirming Petilla’s appointment because he is unhappy with the performance of the Energy secretary, who, Osmeña added, has failed to commit full time to his job as chief of the Department of Energy (DOE).

    Osmeña noted that the power supply problem experienced by the country late last year that resulted in spikes in power rate in Luzon was proof of the Energy secretary’s poor performance.

    He said without elaborating that he expects more power-related problems by 2017.

    Because Petilla will not be called by the CA for his confirmation, he is deemed bypassed by the commission and will have to be reappointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd for him to be able to continue to serve as DOE chief.

    The CA will be conducting its final session next week when Congress is scheduled to adjourn sine die.

    It, however, will be tackling the appointments of three Cabinet members—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

    Paje is expected to face rough sailing at CA next week and Osmena said his confirmation will depend on how he would answer questions he will throw at the secretary.

    Osmeña said he is also not satisfied with the performance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), particularly in addressing illegal logging and black sand mining.

    He also noted that they have calendared Paje’s confirmation at least four times but still the DENR chief has come up short on the two issues.

    When asked if the President made the right decision in appointing Paje, Osmena said he could do a better job.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito has called on Aquino to appoint experts, not his political allies, to key government agencies.

    In a statement, Ejercito also on Thursday said that instead of party affiliations, the President should consider the skills and capability of an individual as the primary qualification to be appointed to government positions.

    “Not to undermine the capabilities of politicians, but several positions in bureaus require technical know-how so they could perform and improve their services. Otherwise, it is the people who will suffer from their inefficiency,” he explained.

    The DOE, Ejercito said, has a secretary who is a politician and a novice in the energy sector.

    The Metro Rail Transit, he added, is also regularly malfunctioning because engineers are not the ones occupying top posts there.

    Ejercito, a member of the Senate energy and public services committees, said political accommodation was a hallmark of the past administration.

    “If [then-President Gloria Arroyo’s] term was characterized by retired military officers given various government positions, now under the Aquino administration, it is the end-term politicians and political allies being given juicy posts,” he added.

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