CA defers confirmation of Philippine envoy to U.N.

MANILA, Philippines – The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) deferred the confirmation of Rodolfo Robles, the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations (UN).

Among the 54 Department of Foreign Affairs officials, only Robles did not make it to the CA plenary.

During the CA committee hearing on Wednesday, September 25, Senator Francis Pangilinan, the commission's minority leader, asked Robles about Philippine policy on China.

"With China's incursion in our exclusive economic zone or our territorial sovereign waters, our people would like to know, what are we going to do with these challenges that we face?" Pangilinan asked.

In response, Robles said: "At the moment, we are actually not able to do anything except [raise] protests one after another, saying this is an illegal act of China. But at the same time, I'm not aware of what we really can do effectively to stop China from doing these."

Pangilinan also raised the suspension of negotiations on grants and loans with countries that signed the Iceland-backed resolution calling for action against the spate of killings in the Philippines.

Robles said it "will not affect" the country's relationship with other security partners.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the CA foreign affairs panel, said they were not satisfied with Robles' answers.

"He disappointed the members of the foreign affairs committee with his responses to some basic questions thrown at him during the confirmation hearing this morning," Lacson said.

There is no schedule for the next hearing yet, but Congress is set to go on break beginning October 4. If the CA does not confirm Robles by then, he would be considered bypassed and would have to be reappointed.

JBC member confirmed

Aside from DFA officials, the powerful body also confirmed the ad interim appointment of retired judge Franklin Demonteverde Sr as a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

Demonteverde received no objections when Senator Aquilino Pimentel III endorsed his confirmation to the plenary.

Demonteverde will be the Integrated Bar of the Philippines representative to the JBC. He once earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte during the water crisis when he headed the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. (READ: Duterte's recycling reaches judiciary: Ex-MWSS chair off to JBC)

Twenty-nine Armed Forces of the Philippines officers were also confirmed by the CA on Wednesday. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.