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Año, 29 AFP officials, 5 envoys hurdle CA

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Thirty officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including AFP chief General Eduardo Año, and five ambassadors were confirmed yesterday by the Commission on Appointments (CA).

The CA has yet to hear the appointments of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano owing to the House of Representatives’ desire to conduct initial vetting on the two Cabinet members.

 CA committee on foreign affairs chairman Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the House contingent moved to defer Yasay’s confirmation hearing to Feb. 22.

San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, CA vice chairman, said they wanted to hear what Yasay has to say about the issue of his citizenship.

“We want him to tell us that this is not true. ‘I am no longer an American citizen although I was an American citizen at one time,’” Zamora said.

 He said the question was previously raised to Yasay, but he has yet to respond to it. 

CA overall chairman and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III downplayed the deferment of Yasay’s confirmation hearing and speculations that this had something to do with the expected appointment of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as the next foreign secretary.

“We cannot, we should not assume when the executive gives us communication that the President has appointed somebody. We will not assume that he is temporary or just a filler,” Pimentel said.

 The President has stated on numerous occasions that Cayetano would be his foreign secretary once the one-year prohibition on appointments for candidates expires this May.

 If ever Yasay is confirmed and stays on, Pimentel said that should not be a problem for Cayetano because he has two years left in the Senate.

While Yasay’s confirmation hearing was deferred, the CA confirmed ambassadors Eduardo Kapunan Jr. to Myanmar; Bienvenido Tejano, Papua New Guinea with concurrent jurisdiction over Kiribati and Solomon Islands; Abdulmaid Kiram Muin, Timor Leste; Evan Garcia as permanent representative to the United Nations; and Ma. Celia Feria, Portugal with concurrent jurisdiction over Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Angola.

In a separate hearing, the promotion of Año to four-star general and the AFP’s 48th chief was also confirmed. 

Año, former chief of the AFP’s intelligence service and Philippine Army, once hogged the headlines owing to his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of activist Jonas Burgos, who remains missing to this day.

EDUARDO AñO

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