CA confirms appointments of DOJ, DOT, DAR chiefs

MANILA The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim appointments of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones.

Guevarra replaced former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III, who stepped down last April amid controversies hounding the DOJ.

Aguirre resigned after state prosecutors dropped charges against alleged top drug suspects Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim.

Prior to his stint at the DOJ, Guevarra was senior deputy executive secretary.

Earlier, Guevarra worked as deputy executive secretary for legal affairs at the Office of the President, and commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission during the previous administration.

Meanwhile, Romulo-Puyat was former agriculture undersecretary for administration, agribusiness and marketing, and regional engagement before being appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the DOT on May 8.

Her appointment breezed through the CA, with the powerful body's committee on tourism and economic development taking only six minutes to give its approval Tuesday.

Like his father, former Foreign Affairs Secretary and former senator Alberto Romulo, Puyat has now served three administrations.

She was the DA's undersecretary for special concerns during the Aquino administration and served as consultant with the Presidential Management Staff during the Arroyo administration.

She replaced Wanda Tulfo-Teo, who resigned after the Commission on Audit flagged PHP60 million in ad placements to a show aired over state-run PTV 4 that was produced by a media outfit owned by Teo's brothers.

Puyat also suspended the "Buhay Carinderia" food tourism project after finding out that Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer Cesar Montano authorized the release of PHP80 million for the project even before it started.

The new tourism chief also questioned why the project did not go through the normal bidding process. Montano resigned on May 22.

But while Puyat's appointment breezed through the confirmation process, Castriciones' confirmation took a longer route.

The confirmation of the DAR chief was deferred by the CA last March after several lawmakers expressed reservations on his experience and track record.

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the CA's committee on agrarian reform, said that Castriciones' appointment was finally approved after 13 of its members voted in favor of his appointment, while two rejected it in secret ballot voting.

Castriciones replaced former lawmaker Rafael Mariano after the latter's appointment was rejected by the CA last year.

Prior to his appointment, Castriciones served as the Department of Interior and Local Government's undersecretary for operations. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency