CONFIRMED. Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel Bonoan (standing, right) faces the Commission on Appointments at the Senate in Pasay City on Tuesday (Nov. 22, 2022). The body approved his appointment without objections. (PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan)

MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) was forced to suspend on Tuesday the deliberation on the appointment of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo after member-Congressmen Oscar Malapitan and Rodante Marcoleta raised some issues.

Malapitan of the First District of Caloocan questioned Tulfo’s previous enlistment to the United States Army.

"Naging enlisted personnel pala kayo ng (Were you enlisted to the) US Army? 1988 to 1992. Ang tanong ko lang po eh dinenounce niyo po ba ang inyong (Did you denounce your) Filipino citizenship?" Malapitan asked Tulfo.

Tulfo then asked for an executive session but Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, who chairs the CA Labor, Employment, Social Welfare, and Migrant Workers Committee, allowed the deliberation to continue, leading to a follow-up question from SAGIP party-list’s Marcoleta.

"Correct me if I'm wrong but to be an enlisted in the US Army, either you are a citizen by birth or you have acquired US citizenship by naturalization or that you are a lawful permanent resident. What is the status of your citizenship when you were an enlisted member of the US Army and when you served in active military service in Europe?" Marcoleta asked.

Marcoleta, informed that the citizenship issue will be tackled in an executive session, then opened discussion on Tulfo's previous conviction for four counts of libel.

"That case is related to my profession as a journalist. There was a conviction, that's correct. It is because of my line of work as a journalist. It's libel, four counts of libel same individual," Tulfo admitted.

Marcoleta said he was trying to determine whether Tulfo's conviction will be an issue on the process of his confirmation.

"As the Supreme Court enunciated in several cases, libel is an offense that involves moral turpitude. In some other cases disposed by the Supreme Court, there were certain people who were disqualified from holding positions because they have been convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude," he said.

Marcoleta assured that he supports Tulfo's confirmation as DSWD secretary but said the matter needs to be threshed out by the CA.

"I could not have asked you this question, Secretary, if it did not appear in the report submitted to us by the Commission on Appointments," he added.

When the CA resumed its session, it was the turn of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel Bonoan, who had served under the agency for 44 years.

Bonoan, a registered civil engineer, retired from DPWH in 2010.

"I thought my career in government had already reached its peak and had come into conclusion. It is quite unimaginable how one day, my apparently concluded career in the department suddenly resurrected," Bonoan said in his introductory speech.

He said he accepted President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s offer to join the Cabinet for the love of country, despite his family's reluctance.

"I am well aware that the job is enormous especially in these challenging times. I recognize that the Department of Public Works and Highways is one of the key agencies that stimulate economic progress and relaunch our country out of the effects of the pandemic," Bonoan said.

"With the trust endowed to me by President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., I am absolutely committed as ever to pave the way for the DPWH to fullfil its role at the forefront of the government in its infrastructure development program."

The CA confirmed Bonoan's appointment without objections. (PNA)