By Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed on Wednesday the nomination of Sheriff Manimbayan Abas as Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman and the appointment of John Rualo Castriciones as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary as it goes into a three-week Lenten break starting Thursday.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, concurrent CA chairman, said Abas could continue working as Comelec chief because he was nominated to the post by President Duterte.
The Comelec-Employees Union stated that it embraces Abas as the first Comelec chairman from Mindanao, the first Muslim chairman, the youngest Comelec chief and the first Commissioner to become chairman of the Comelec.
A nominee can continue working in his official capacity without the need of re-appointment by Malacañang after being bypassed by the CA, Pimentel told The Manila Bulletin. But this is not the case of Castriciones, who needs to be reappointed because his is an ad interim appointment, he said.
An ad interim appointment loses its effectivity after a bypass, the Senate chief pointed out. Pimentel said the official function of Castriciones ended at midnight last night.
Castriciones needs another re-appointment from Malacañang to able to resume his official functions, he added.
The CA confirmed on Wednesday the nomination of lawyer Manuel Antonio Javier Teehankee in the current second regular session of the 17th Congress.
The CA, during the first two years of the Duterte administration, has rejected the appointments of Perfecto Yasay as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary, Jean Paulyn Ubial as Department of Health (DOH) secretary, Gina Lopez as Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary and Rafael Mariano as DAR secretary.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, a CA member, said the CA constitutional commissions and offices committee, was not able to call Abas to a public hearing leading to Abas’ bypass.
He, nevertheless, expressed optimism that both Abas and Castriciones would be called by the appropriate CA committees when the constitutional bicameral body resumes conducting public hearings.
“It is just a matter of time for these two to be confirmed,” he said.