Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Commission on Appointments, our common idol, Mr. Senate President – the fightingest secretary of the DFA, this Representation as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the nominations of six (6) Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The Committee likewise deliberated on the ad interim appointments of one (1) Senior Officer to the rank of Chief of Mission, Class I, and six (6) Senior Officials promoted to the rank of Foreign Service Officer, Class II.
Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, determined that all of the six (6) nominees and seven (7) appointees are fit and qualified to the post and position to which they are respectively promoted or nominated, and ruled to recommend to the plenary their respective nominations and appointments for the consent and confirmation of this august body.
Mr. Chairman, it is therefore my honor and privilege to recommend that the Commission give its consent to the nomination of the following Department of Foreign Affairs’ Senior Officers, namely:
At the hearing on the 2021 budgets of the Commission on Audit and Office of the Ombudsman, Sen. Lacson stressed the DBM has no authority under the Constitution to issue a discontinuance against a constitutional body such as the COA – after noting that the DBM issued a budget circular providing for the discontinuance of Programs, Activities and Projects (PAPs) of COA amounting to a total of P173M under the 2020 budget as they were categorized as congressional initiative and as “For Later Release.”
“My point is, Mr. Chairman, under the Constitution – particularly Sec. 5, Art 9-A, it provides for the automatic and regular release of the annual appropriations of constitutional commissions. And COA very clearly is one of three constitutional commissions, Comelec and CSC being the others. Of course even the judiciary,” Sen. Lacson said as he also cited jurisprudence (Bengzon vs Drilon, GR 103524), where fiscal autonomy allows the constitutional bodies and the judiciary full flexibility to allocate and utilize their resources with the wisdom and dispatch that their needs require. “So pag sinabi nating fiscal autonomy, walang pakialam ang DBM.”
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo said that while they are okay with the DBM’s decision “considering the difficulties the govt was having with funding in view of the pandemic,” he would agree that “it’s a violation of fiscal autonomy under the Constitution.”
“I’d like to manifest this very clearly, let this not serve as a precedent for future issuances by DBM; huwag lang gawing precedent setting ito. If I may add, emergency or no emergency, hindi pwedeng precedent ito,” Sen. Lacson said.
At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson stressed the need for greater government support for research and development, especially in the fight against COVID-19. He also raised questions on:
* Information that PhilHealth is not getting full allocations from the sin tax
* Why P30B in COVID-19 response funds remain undisbursed
* NEDA’s ‘Resiliency’ planning
At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson raised questions on the following issues:
* Ability of DPWH, DoTr to accomplish infrastructure programs to rebound from pandemic
* P396B in lump sums in the DPWH’s budget – lodged in the central office
* Re-appropriations involving 2,933 items worth P73.5B in the proposed budget
* P30B not yet allocated for COVID-19 response
Mr. Chairman, this representation as one of the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee on National Defense, presided over a public hearing this morning to deliberate on the ad interim appointments of 29 Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the nomination of one (1) officer to the rank of General.
Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, determined that all of the 29 appointees and one nominee are fit and qualified to the ranks which they are respectively promoted or nominated, and has therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their respective appointments and nomination for the confirmation and consent of this august body.
It is my honor and privilege to recommend that this body give its consent to the nomination of LT. GEN. GILBERT I. GAPAY to the rank of GENERAL.
Atty. del Rosario’s irrevocable resignation is one of many reasons to hope for some good things to come in view of the ongoing DOJ-led Task Force investigating the recent PhilHealth anomalies. The paying members and all taxpayers who contribute to the state health insurance fund surely deserve a break from the cyclical corruption involving its top executives.
DOJ Sec. Guevarra being on top of the situation, with full support being extended by the President, is something that we did not see in past investigations of PhilHealth anomalies.
We can only pray and hope that the renewed effort will be sustained all the way to its logical conclusion.
On PCEO Ricardo Morales:
I feel sorry for PCEO Morales, not for anything else but for his health condition. I hate to think that the stress brought about by the intense hearings of the Senate Committee of the Whole may have taken a toll on his already infirm health condition.
In spite of his possible complicity that could make him face some serious legal problems stemming from the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole, I still wish that he wins his bout against cancer and recovers.
Mr. Chairman, this representation as one of the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee on National Defense, presided over a public hearing to deliberate on the ad interim appointments of 14 Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the nomination of one officer to the rank of Lieutenant General.
Your Committee, after deliberating on their qualifications and fitness during the said public hearing, has determined that all of the 14 appointees and one nominee are fit and qualified to the ranks which they are respectively nominated or appointed, and has therefore ruled to recommend to the plenary their respective nomination and appointments for the consent and confirmation of this august body.
The Chief of the PNP, Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa; members of the Command Group and Directorial Staff; this morning’s recipient of the PNP Foundation Inc.’s donation, the PNP Retirement and Benefit Administration Service led by their director P/Col. Arthur Bisnar; the uniformed and non-uniformed men and women of the PNP; the awardees of the much-coveted Outstanding PMA Alumnus Award – for your information I was also a proud member of Alpha Company of the Cadet Corps, AFP – a pleasant morning to all of you.
Historian and 19th Century diplomat Washington Irvin once said, and I quote: “Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but great minds rise above them.”
Over the past months, we have been confronted by a series of misfortunes brought about by a health crisis that caught the whole world unsuspecting, literally altering the way we have known to live our lives.
Sen. Lacson’s Opening Statement at the Senate Committee of the Whole Hearing on Corruption at PhilHealth:
Sa nakaraang dalawangaraw na pagdinig ng komite ng buong Senado na ating isinagawa sa kasalukuyan, buong singkad na maghapon nang parehong araw ng Martes, pinaligiran po tayo ng mga sinungaling at mga manloloko. Sabi nga ng nanay ng kasama nating Senator Grace Poe – “Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw!”
Let me prove what I just said, Mr. President and distinguished colleagues.
Only last week, I asked Fund Management Sector Senior Vice President Renato Limsiaco, Jr., why despite PhilHealth being a withholding tax agent of the BIR, he failed to deduct and withhold from the funds advanced to the private hospitals and other health care institutions the taxes due them under the National Internal Revenue Code.