MANILA (Sept. 25) — The House contingent to the 25-member bicameral Commission of Appointments (CA) has given up on confirming Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes and Environment Secretary Jose Atienza Jr.
“We’ve formally requested Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (the concurrent CA chairman) to terminate consideration of the appointments of Secretaries Reyes and Atienza,” said Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, head of the House contingent to the CA.
The separate petitions to stop deliberations on the two Cabinet members were signed by a majority of the House contingent to the CA, Gullas said.
Both Reyes and Atienza have been bypassed by the CA and reinstalled eight times by Malacañang. They were last reappointed in June, according to CA records.
Gullas said the grievances against Reyes and Atienza “just piled up over the years.”
“Many House members have come forward to complain against Reyes and Atienza. Both have been absolutely difficult, uncooperative and unresponsive to the needs of the constituents of House members,” Gullas said.
“For instance, House members from the Visayas have been demanding an explanation as to why our fuel (pump) prices are higher compared to those in Metro Manila and Luzon. Mr. Reyes has been unable to provide an acceptable explanation,” Gullas said.
In fact, Gullas noted “widespread grumbling” that the Department of Energy (DOE) under Reyes has been “totally remiss” in superintending oil refiners and importers, and in safeguarding consumers against potential pump pricing abuses.
Gullas pointed out that under the 1998 Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law, the DOE, along with the Department of Justice, has adequate powers to thwart pricing abuses by the oil firms.
“House members and local government executives from the Visayas have also been asking why our electricity rates have been increased higher than those in Luzon and Mindanao. Again, we’ve been unable to get a positive answer from Mr. Reyes,” Gullas said.
Reyes is also concurrent chairman of the state-owned National Power Corp.
“As to Mr. Atienza, he has also been unsupportive and unhelpful,” Gullas pointed out.
Atienza is said to be gearing up to run again as mayor of Manila in next year’s elections. Reyes is said to be getting ready to contest Taguig City-Pateros’ lone congressional seat.
The Constitution vests the CA with the power to approve key presidential appointments, as part of institutional checks and balances.
The CA is composed of 12 members each from the House and the Senate, plus the Senate President as chairman.