MANILA, Philippines - Not only does he head effectively one-half of a department, Jesus Robredo is secretary of interior and local government only in an acting capacity.
This was confirmed on Monday by Malacañang, following reports by VERA Files the beleaguerd Robredo was not among those submitted for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA). (Click here for VERA Files report.)
According to a list obtained by ABS-CBN News from the CA, Malacañang is asking the 25-member bicameral body to confirm the ad interim appointments of 18 heads of line departments as required by the Constitution.
Missing from the list, aside from Robredo, were Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Asked about the cases of Robredo, Paje and Baldoz, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda admitted they were serving in an acting capacity, which was why their names were not submitted to the CA.
“Hindi ko alam ano ang katwiran kung bakit sila acting but hindi naman siguro ibig sabihin they are under probation. For all intents and purposes, they have the same powers as an ad interim-appointed secretary,” Lacierda told reporters in Malacañang.
Paje is widely believed to be a seat warmer for defeated Liberal Party senatorial candidate Nereus Acosta, who has to sit out a one-year ban on appointment to a government post.
No explanation was given in the case of Baldoz, a career labor official whose appointment was well received across all sectors.
While confirming that Robredo was there in an acting capacity, Lacierda insisted in a text message to ABS-CBN News that the beleaguered secretary “enjoys (the president's) trust.”
Robredo is under fire for the August 23 hostage-taking incident where 8 Hong Kong tourists died together with the hostage-taker, dismissed police offcier Rolando Mendoza.
At the height of the crisis, it was also revealed that President Aquino had specifically instructed Robredo to concentrate on local government issues and keep his hands off police operations.
Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno has been tasked oversee the Philippine National Police.
Robredo, on Monday, evaded newsmen who were waiting to get his reaction on reports that he was not on the list to be submitted to the CA for confirmation. He referred media’s queries to Malacañang.
Also submitted to the CA were the ad interim appointments of 302 military officers, and 69 foreign service officers.
Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News