Press Release
April 3, 2006

Drilon: Sengas proposal to cut CA powers not possible

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin M. Drilon today clarified that the proposal to clip the powers of the Commission on Appointments (CA) over military appointments and promotions through an enabling law has no merit at all as these same powers are enshrined in the Constitution.

"Cutting the legislative powers of the CA as proposed by AFP chief Gen. Generoso Senga is not possible by merely passing the National Defense Act. What you need is to amend the Constitution itself," Drilon, who is also CA chairman, said.

The Senate chief cited Article VII, Section 16 which states: "The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution."

"Thus, promotions of all military officers, from colonel up, have to be confirmed by the CA, a constitutional body composed of 12 senators and 12 congressmen presided by the Senate President," Drilon said.

"Apart from providing check and balance in the governmental system, reviewing and approving military promotions and appointments strongly validate the principle of civilian supremacy over the military as provided in the Constitution," Drilon added.

He also pointed out the CA has no intention whatsoever of "politicizing" the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the appointments body remained committed to its duty in providing the public the countrys best leaders whether in the military or in the civilian bureaucracy.

"Undergoing the Commissions scrutiny or being bypassed would certainly hurt, but there is really no reason for Gen. Senga to fret because the CAs policy, based on its rules, is to "accord the nomination or appointment weight and respect," Drilon said.

Senga was quoted in published reports that "Officers with the rank of colonel are confirmed by the Commission on Appointments That early, politicians could have an influence on them so we are proposing that only the highest-ranking officials of the (AFP) should pass through CA."

"Gen. Senga should not fear of influence peddling in the military because the Commission has always adhered to its duty and that it always gives importance to integrity which is supposed to be one of the yardsticks for any nominees confirmation," Drilon stressed.

The Senate chief also took exception to reports that Army chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., one of the four generals being linked to the alleged poll fraud in 2004, was bypassed for promotion by the CA.

Drilon explained that it was Esperon himself who requested that his confirmation be deferred by the CA.

As to allegations of abusive and corrupt CA members, Drilon said the accuser or accusers should name names, substantiate and bring these accusations to the proper forum so that an investigation can be conducted immediately.

"Whenever it (investigation) becomes necessary, we have to immediately conduct it in order to erase suspicion on the integrity and probity of the appointments body," the Senate President said.

Drilon also backed the proposal of Senator Aquilino Pimentel that appointments and promotions of top and senior police officers should pass CA scrutiny to ensure professionalization in the Philippine National Police.

"Its only logical to include PNP director general and other senior police officers under the scope of the Commissions powers," he said.

"And since the executive branchs process of selecting government officials is done away from the prying eyes of the public, the 24 men and women who make up the Commission are relied on to take a second look at the fitness and competence of the candidate, whether from the civilian or the military, for the job he or she has been nominated for," he said.

The CA has the final say on appointments in the Cabinet, constitutional bodies, and presidential commissions. It also screens promotions in the military from the rank of colonel upwards, including the Department of Foreign Affairs consuls, heads of missions and ambassadors.

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