Sonia Brady breezes through Commission on Appointments

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The Commission on Appointments (CA) has waived the  requirement for the publication of Sonia Brady’s appointment as ambassador to China, swiftly confirming her Wednesday within an hour of opening discussions on her appointment.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III said he would not object to Malacañang’s choice of Brady, a veteran diplomat who retired in 2010, as envoy to Beijing “because we have a critical national matter that would have to be attended to. She served there already for four years.”

Osmeña thrice blocked the appointment of President Benigno Aquino III’s original choice for ambassador, businessman Domingo Lee, for failing to answer questions about the Philippines’ conflict with China in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The current disagreement over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off the coast of Zambales has raised tensions anew between the two countries.

Osmeña urged commission members to confirm Brady “while the iron is hot,” lest Malacañang changes its mind and appoints another undeserving noncareer diplomat, he said.

Senator Francis Escudero, acting chairman of the CA foreign relations committee, pointed out that under the rules, a notice and publication of Brady’s appointment are required before she could be confirmed.

Usually, a week passes after publication before the commission discusses an appointment.

CA member Representative Roilo Golez noted that no violent objection from any sector was heard when newspapers carried stories about Brady’s appointment earlier this week.

Since the appointment was given front-page treatment in some newspapers, Golez said that could be considered as meeting the requirement of publication.

CA member Rresentative Simeon Datumanong, however, questioned the haste with which Brady’s appointment was being taken up.

“Is there a big difference considering the problem between the Philippines and China? What is a matter of one week from today and next week?” he asked.

Escudero warned that the number of Chinese boats at Panatag Shoal continued to rise. “The count could go higher as we delay assigning an ambassador,” he said.

Nueva Ecija Representative Rodolfo Antonino, another commission member, noted that China had indicated its support for Brady’s appointment.

“The Chinese government through its ambassador welcomed the appointment. It  is something that is not normal, for a government to express its approval of a nomination in advance,” he said.

“I think that shows the importance that the Chinese government is putting (on this issue).  And we need a competent and well-respected career ambassador in Beijing as soon as possible,” Antonino told Datumanong.

Brady was eventually called before the CA members.

Under oath, she talked of plans to “de-escalate” the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

Brady said there was a need to “turn off the fire” so both countries could “talk and find a solution to the problem.”

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