Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday endorsed and confirmed the appointment of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Apart from Dominguez’s appointment, those of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar were also confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments.
At the plenary session of the CA, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano asked to put on record his gratitude to the members of the Liberal Party, namely Sen. Pangilinan and Sen. Drilon, who chaired the CA Committee on Finance and CA Committee on Energy respectively.
“I noticed that two out of four senior secretaries confirmed, the committees were chaired by members of the Liberal Party. They eloquently sponsored their confirmation. So let me put on record, our gratitude for their acts of statesmanship and also I consider this a vote of confidence in our administration,” Senator Cayetano manifested.
Senator Pangilinan replied saying: “With that manifestation of Senator Cayetano, this is proof that there is no hidden agenda and that we are here to support the initiatives of this administration that we believe will be good for the country.”
After the plenary session, Pangilinan was asked on the alleged Plan B of the Liberal Party.
“Hindi totoo ‘yun na kami sa LP ay gumagawa ng mga hakbang na ganun. Unang-una nakita mo nga kanina dito na ang LP contingent sa Commission on Appointments ay talagang suportado ang ilan, lalo na ang mga haligi ng Gabinete ng ating Pangulong Duterte ay sinuportahan natin at hindi lang sinuportahan, tayo pa ang nagsponsor ng kanilang confirmation,” Pangilinan said.
“Kung mayroon mang gumagawa noon ay hindi natin sinusuportahan ‘yun at ‘yun ay hindi tama. Dahil ngayon ang panahon para magkaroon ng tulungan sa abot ng ating makakaya at kung mayroon mang ganung mga hakbang eh kontra ‘yun sa ating Saligang Batas. Ako’y naniniwala na dapat ay palakasin natin at patatagin natin ang ating Constitutional democracy.”
During the committee hearing, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV also expressed his support for Dominguez.
“I would just like, for the record, to state my support for Secretary Dominguez. I’ve known him actually for almost all of my life and as senator, he was one of the first secretaries that I sought an audience with within maybe two to three weeks of his assumption to talk about not only finance but specifically the tax reforms that we need to do. The meetings have been very fruitful and Secretary Dominguez continues to show his expertise on the matter. Just for the record, Mr. Chairman, I support Secretary Dominguez,” Aquino said.
Pangilinan, Aquino, and Drilon are members of the Liberal Party.
DOMINGUEZ POSITION ON ABOLITION OF IRRIGATION FEES, NFA
At the Commission on Appointments (CA) public hearing that came before the formal confirmation, Dominguez explained his position on the administration’s proposed policies concerning the agriculture sector that were reported in the media.
Pangilinan, chairman of the CA Committee on Finance, asked Dominguez, a former secretary of agriculture, about his position on the abolition of irrigation fees, the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA), and the coco levy fund.
“Regarding the irrigation fees, and I have expressed this to the President, I told him that while it is a popular idea to eliminate irrigation fees, I think this is not such a good idea because people who get things for free tend to waste them,” Dominguez said explaining his position on the proposed abolition of irrigation fees.
“If the water is free, people will not conserve it. It’s just the human nature that I observed. I think the irrigation fees should be paid to the irrigation cooperatives for continuous maintenance of the irrigation canals,” the new finance secretary added.
Dominguez also explained his position on the proposed abolition of the NFA.
“NFA definitely has a function and that function is to provide buffer stock for calamities, for unforeseen circumstances in our nation. However, NFA’s budget is too small to really intervene in the market and we might as well use those funds to provide the buffer stocking operations. Therefore, I think the NFA should be limited to buffer stock operations,” Dominguez said.
“With regards to the coco levy fund, and we discussed this with the President and we believe that there is legislation necessary to utilize those coco levy funds for the benefit of farmers in the coconut areas. And we think that legislation should be passed whereby these funds are utilized for the benefit of the people in the coconut areas and I would support using these funds to provide scholarships,” Dominguez said on his position on the coco levy fund which was discussed in a public hearing and technical working group by Pangilinan’s Senate Committee on Agriculture.
“I think it’s very difficult right now to identify who paid what into that fund. This fund has been around for over 40 years. Supporting scholarships, supporting better farming methods, maybe supporting fertilization and new intercropping methods with coconuts as well as different varieties of coconuts, I think should be done by legislation,” the finance secretary added.