Home » Opinion » Of Trees and Forest » Appointing power

Appointing power

The power of the President to appoint certain officials in his administration is grounded on the idea that he should be given the prerogative to choose the people he trusts can implement his agenda, and that he will pick the best and the brightest to advise him on governance.

This prerogative is, of course, limited by the Constitution through the legislative power of advice and consent. In our system of government, a Congressional Commission on Appointments reviews and approves presidential appointments.

I must say that so far, I have been impressed by President’s use of this presidential prerogative. More recently, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte announced a number of appointments to fill the vacancies in his government.

He appointed former Armed Forces chief of staff Roy Cimatu to replace Gina Lopez, who failed to get the nod of the powerful CA as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who was his running mate in the last 2016 national elections, was appointed to head the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

President also named a new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor in the person of Nestor Espenilla. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also has a new boss in the person of Gen. Eduardo Año, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

These four appointees reflect the President’s commitment to bringing on board officials he can trust and who have the capacity get things done.

Ambassador Cimatu has some big shoes to fill. Ms. Lopez has shown tremendous passion in what she believed was the duty of an environment secretary. Even those who opposed her appointment recognize her zeal and commitment to what she believed in.

But I believe that Ambassador Cimatu is up to the task. A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Cimatu is an experienced soldier not only in terms of combat operations but also in military management.

While spending a significant amount of time dealing with the Mindanao rebellion, he quickly rose from platoon leaders to brigade commander. He also became the chief of the Armed Forces Southern Command in 2000.

After a sterling career in the military, Cimatu was appointed Special Envoy to the Middle East. I remember him playing a huge part in the release of Filipino kidnap victims in Iraq.

Cimatu’s military and diplomatic background will certainly serve him well as he negotiates a careful balance between the need to protect the environment and economic rights.

I sincerely believe that there is a healthy balance that can be achieved there and that the two interests are not mutually exclusive. And I hope the new secretary can find that common ground.

The other appointment I am excited about is regarding the Foreign Affairs post. Nacionalista Party member and someone very dear to me, Senator Cayetano has been asked to serve his country by helping the President manage our foreign relations. I have no doubt Alan will do well.

Just like his father, the late Senator Renato Cayetano, Alan has turned out to be an accomplished public servant and a brilliant lawyer. Two qualities that he needs to employ as he guides our country’s foreign policy amidst serious challenges such as the South China Sea, Russia, PH-US relations, among others.

Alan has proven to be one of the nation’s best young leaders. He has fought corruption in government and served the Senate with intelligence and passion.

He has his work cut out for him. He needs to focus on implementing President Duterte’s assertion of an independent foreign policy. In addition, security and economic issues on a global scale need to be addressed. For instance, he needs to guide the department to seek out regional responses to terrorism.

I heard one interview where Alan admitted that it would be tough to make his transition from politician to diplomat.

I know Alan to be very direct, especially if he is talking about something that he believes in.

But when I was in the Senate, I also knew him to be tactful, especially in dealing with the other members of Congress. I am very sure he will make that transition seamlessly.

I congratulate President Duterte on these appointments and I wish Ambassador Cimatu and Senator Cayetano the best of luck in leading our country to progress!

(For comments/feedback email to : mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph) (Senator Manny Villar)