CONFIRMED. Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin (left), and Department of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno facing on Wednesday (Nov. 23, 2022) the Commission on Appointments during the deliberation of their confirmations. (Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB) 

MANILA – The members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) unanimously approved on Wednesday the appointments of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

During the CA deliberation on his appointment, Bersamin recalled that he did not hesitate to accept President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s offer and knew that the position is attached with a very high expectation.

"I accepted the presidents invitation without hesitation for it was a call to continue serving our people and country in a greater capacity," Bersamin told the CA.

"I was fully aware too that the position of executive secretary despite the highest prestige and stature it would bring to me as a person would come with the most challenging demands. But I am confident that my varied experience in the public service, in general and the judiciary in particular, would serve me in good stead in overcoming the myriad challenges," he added.

Bersamin, then serving as chairperson of the Government System Insurance Corporation, was designated as executive secretary by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in an Officer-in-Charge capacity on September 27 this year.

Being a public servant for 36 years, of which 33 years as a judicial officer, Bersamin was appointed as the presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Nov. 5, 1986 at the age of 37.

After nearly 17 years in Quezon City RTC, six years in the Court of Appeals, Bersamin was appointed as associate justice of the Supreme Court on April 2, 2009 and eventually, its 25th Chief Justice on Nov. 28, 2018.

Meanwhile, Diokno has already served four presidents while he was in the Department of Budget and Management, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor, and now, in the DOF.

"If confirmed, I swear that I will continue to serve the Filipino people to the best of my ability," Diokno told the CA.

On Tuesday, Diokno dismissed rumors of him leaving the DOF during an ambush interview with reporters at the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute’s Pilipinas Conference in Makati City.

Appointment deferred

On the other hand, the CA dismissed the deliberations for the confirmation of Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Gamaliel Cordoba after a passionate discussion on the ABS-CBN franchise of Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Rep. Rodante Marcoleta.

Hontiveros was questioning Cordoba's issuance of a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN to stop operating its various TV and radio broadcasting stations nationwide after an alleged pressure from then Solicitor General Jose Calida and the his predecessor as COA chair.

"Paano po kayo pagkakatiwalaan ng publiko at paano pagkakatiwalaan ang integridad ninyo bilang chair ng COA kung nilabag ninyo ang isang pagtataya, isang commitment, na ibinigay ninyo under oath (How can the public trust you and how will your integrity be trusted as chair of the COA if you have violated a commitment, that you gave under oath)?" the lawmaker asked.

Cordoba replied that after the House of Representatives proceedings, he asked for a legal advise from the Department of Justice and studied the ACWS vs. NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) ruling of the Supreme Court which upheld the NTC's decision.

"Doon sa hearing na yun ay humingi po ako ng tawad gusto ko pong ulitin ngayon, pasensya na po (In that hearing, I apologized and I want to reiterate that now, I am sorry) I just had to follow the rule of law," he said.

After a few questions from Hontiveros, Marcoleta asked why is the former belaboring the issue when it is already "moot and academic."

"Siguro kaya ka lang humihingi ng tawad kasi naawa ka sa mga nawalan ng trabaho (Maybe you're just apoligizing because you pity those who have lost their jobs), but that is not your fault. You have to protect the government, the interest of the government. Bakit ka hihingi ng tawad kung tama ang ginawa mo (Why would you apologize if you did the right thing)? It was based on the law, it was based on jurisprudence, that is something you need not ask forgiveness for," Marcoleta told Cordoba.

After a few more exchanges, the CA Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Offices, which is chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar, decided to suspend the deliberation and the body proceeded to the plenary confirmation of Bersamin and Diokno.

Like Diokno, Cordoba also served under four presidents from the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff in 2001 until he was appointed as NTC Commissioner in 2009. (PNA)