CA bypasses DAR chief’s appointment

MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday bypassed the appointment of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Rualo Castriciones after several lawmakers questioned anew his experience and track record.

During the resumption of hearing by the CA’s Committee on Agrarian Reform, Senator Risa Hontiveros noted that the DAR chief has handled only one agrarian reform case during his years in private law practice, and that was to represent a landowner.

In the previous hearing, Castriciones said that as a lawyer, he has handled numerous agrarian cases for tenants and landowners alike, to which he was asked to produce a list of these cases including the corresponding resolutions.

Hontiveros also questioned a couple of orders issued by Castriciones which she believed set the process of resolving pending cases before the DAR “back to square one.”

Meanwhile, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito asked for the list of farmer-beneficiaries who are still in possession of their certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) as based on reports, many farmer-beneficiaries were forced to sell or pawn their CLOAs, often to the previous landowners, due to financial hardships.

An executive session was called by Senator Grace Poe after which the decision to bypass Castriciones was made.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said Castriciones was bypassed after a member of the CA asked the submission of additional documents.

“Technically bypassed. May isa lang member ng committee who wants to have more information at humihingi lang dagdag papeles. So postpone lang yung hearing sa third week of May (There is just one member of the committee who wants to have more information and asks for additional documents. So the hearing was postponed until the third week of May)” he said in an interview.

But despite the bypass, Zubiri expressed confidence that Castriciones would be confirmed in due time.

“For me, it’s a postponement. Technically it’s a bypass, but, for me it’s a postponement. May hinihintay lang silang dagdag na document (They are just waiting for additional document). After they submit it ay wala na po’ng problema (After they submit, there will be no problem). It’s just a matter of time … its nothing to worry about,’ he said.

Besides, he said that this will be the first bypass and under CA rules, a nominee can be bypassed three times after which the body would be forced to either confirm or reject the nomination.

“Ayaw nating mangyari iyon kasi mapapahiya pa yung Secretary. Kaya ang ginawa na lang namin ay hayaan na lang natin, pagbalik na mag-hearing (We don’t want that to happen because it would embarass the Secretary. That’s why we let it be until the next hearing),” Zubiri said.

Castriciones was appointed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in December following the rejection of former DAR chief Rafael Mariano last September. Jose Cielito Reganit /PNA –