July 19, 2018, 5:59 am
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CA bypasses appointment of agrarian reform chief

THE 25-member Commission on Appointments yesterday bypassed the appointment of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Rualo Castriciones after lawmakers continued to question his qualification for the job.

CA committee on agrarian reform chair Sen. Grace Poe, emerging from an executive session, said Castriciones “is bypassed for now.”

The CA committee on foreign affairs, meanwhile, confirmed the appointment of Manuel Antonio Javier Teehankee as permanent representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said at least two lawmakers, including Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario, expressed reservations on the qualifications and track record of Castriciones to head the department. 

“There are issues that have not yet resolved like qualification and experience,” Lacson said. “There are members who were not satisfied. We will respect them,” he added.

Hontiveros threatened to invoke Section 20 to block Castriciones’ appointment.

In the hearing last week, Hontiveros and several other CA members questioned Castriciones’ capability to head the Department of Agrarian Reform. Castriciones was an undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government. He has said he is capable of heading the DAR. He said he has experience in dealing with agrarian reform cases as a lawyer.

He failed to submit copies of agrarian reform cases he has handled. Poe said Castriciones submitted to the panel only one case, wherein he was defending a landlord and not a tenant.

Sen. JV Ejercito also questioned him on his alleged involvement in the ouster of former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno. Castriciones denied having a hand in Sueno’s removal from office.

On Teehankee, Hontiveros opposed his appointment because of his reported failure to pay a former domestic helper correct wages.

She said she was informed about this by the Geneva Forum on Philippine Concerns, a non-government organization for migrants. She said the group has yet to withdraw its opposition to Teehankee’s appointment.

Despite her opposition, the panel still decided to recommend the confirmation of the ambassador to the plenary.
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