MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang appealed yesterday to members of the Commission on Appointments to decide on the confirmation of President Aquino’s appointees based on record and not on personal differences.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also expressed confidence that Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles would be able to defend themselves if grilled by CA members regarding the controversies hounding the two officials.
Valte said they were hoping that lawmakers and not just administration allies would rally behind the Cabinet secretaries “who were appointed by the President in order to further the reform agenda.”
Soliman may be headed for rough waters in the powerful CA as there are moves in the House to investigate alleged irregularities in the flotation of Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate bonds in 2001. Deles was also being implicated in the controversy. A group of lawmakers have also demanded her resignation for her alleged insulting remarks against Lanao del Norte Rep. Fatima Aliah Dimaporo.
The President, however, voiced his full confidence in Deles despite the incident.
With a looming House probe on the PEACe bonds, Soliman may have to face former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the second time in a House hearing.
Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, a staunch ally of Mrs. Arroyo, told reporters yesterday that the former president would most likely participate in the investigation.
“I think they (Mrs. Arroyo and Soliman) will have a second round. There is no reason for President Arroyo to inhibit (herself from the planned inquiry),” he said.
Arroyo and Soliman, who are former allies, faced each other when the House deliberated on the proposed P34-billion 2011 budget of the DSWD.
Arroyo delayed the approval of the DSWD budget for two days by questioning the P21-billion CCT program, which she started two years ago and which President Aquino has decided to continue implementing.
Soliman was DSWD secretary during the Arroyo administration. She and nine other Cabinet members and senior officials quit in July 2005 at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal.
Before turning her back on her Palace boss, Soliman, together with Mrs. Arroyo and other Cabinet officials even belted out a ditty called “If we hold on together,” at Malacañang.
The House inquiry on the PEACe bonds was prompted by a resolution filed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and his brother Maximo, who represents the party-list group Abante Mindanao.
The Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said he has asked Iloilo Rep. Jerry Trenas, who chairs the committee on good government, to call a hearing when Congress resumes session on Nov. 8.
Suarez himself said he would participate in the inquiry because he wanted answers to a lot of questions.
He said he could not understand why the so-called PEACe bonds, which were worth only P10 billion when they were floated in 2001, would cost the government at least P35 billion upon their maturity next year.
This means that taxpayers would be paying P25 billion in interest over a 10-year period, or P2.5 billion a year, which translates to a 25-percent annual interest rate on P10 billion, he stressed.
He said he would also like to find out who shared the P1.4 billion in commissions made from the bond sale.
“Apparently, the P1.4 billion was deducted from the amount that the government received, which means that only P8.6 billion was remitted to the treasury,” he said.
“Magaling ang naka-isip nito. Laway lang ang puhunan (The one who thought of this is a genius. The only capital was smooth talk),” Suarez added.
Soliman was head of the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Code NGO), the proponent of the bond float.
Sixto Donato Macasaet, executive director of Code NGO, confirmed on Thursday that the government would pay P35 billion next year when the bonds mature.
Apparently responding to criticism that taxpayers would be paying P25 billion in accumulated interests, Macasaet said the debt papers carry a “compounded” annual interest rate of 12.75 percent.
He said Soliman was no longer with Code NGO when it proposed the bond flotation.
As for Peace Process Adviser Deles, Macasaet said she never worked for the organization.
He claimed that politics was behind the revival of the issue on the PEACe bonds.
He said critics of Soliman and Deles want them out of the Aquino Cabinet.
Aurea Calica & Jess Diaz, Philippine Star