POSTPONED. Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri suggests deferring the deliberations of the Commission on Appointments Committee on Constitutional Commission and Offices during a panel meeting on Monday (May 30, 2022). He suggested that the next administration be given a hand in appointing officials. (Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB)

MANILA – The confirmation hearing of five applicants for various government posts should be deferred until the new administration takes over so it will have a hand in selecting the officials it want to work with.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday cited a similar suggestion in February 2016 by former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, saying then-President Benigno Aquino III should no longer appoint officials whose terms will outgrow his.

Two Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials and five ambassadors were bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) at the time.

"I will tell you, ambassadors deployed abroad are representatives of the President. It will be unfair to the next President that these people are appointed by the outgoing President. Three years tenure, you deprive him [the new President] of selecting the people that he would want to represent him," Zubiri remembered Enrile saying then.

Enrile said then that the next President should be given the right to choose his own representatives, Zubiri added during a panel meeting of the CA Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Offices chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar.

The CA started deliberating on the appointments of COA chairperson Rizalina Noval Justol, Civil Service Commission chairperson Karlo Alexei Nograles, and Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan and Commissioners Aimee Torrefranca-Neri and George Erwin Garcia.

Zubiri said the period of term for the COA chief is seven years, which will not allow the new President to appoint the head of the agency until his last day in office.

"Many of my colleagues feel that maybe, it should be the choice of the new president, particularly in the appointments of these constitutional offices," Zubiri said.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said it should be a case-to-case basis and requested to continue the discussion.

"If the outgoing president, by accident lang naman, kasi umabot ng naka-break na tayo (only because it was in time for our break). Maybe a relaxation of that proposal can be requested," Pimentel said in another statement.

But Zubiri argued that a case-to-case basis might show the CA is favoring one appointee over the other.

"It is a matter of principle because of the choice the President. My suggestion is since we have a last day, which could be on Wednesday. Kasi idi-discuss natin ngayon tapos ire-recommend mo sa plenary mamaya (because we can discuss it now and then recommend it to the plenary later), I know some of us and our colleagues in Congress will raise issues of Section 20, di sayang din (It will be a waste)," he said.

According to Section 20 of the New Rules of the CA, any member may move for the suspension of action by the Commission on any nomination or appointment favorably recommended by a Standing Committee and the Chair shall suspend the consideration of said nomination or appointment, provided, that such suspension may be taken up on the succeeding session of the Commission; and provided, further, that it shall not apply to nominations or appointments taken up by the Commission during the last session prior to sine die adjournment of Congress.

The CA moved the plenary deliberations on Wednesday, two days before the sine die adjournment of the 18th Congress. (PNA)