CA defers confirmation of PH envoy to UN
Updated @ 11:19 p.m., Sept. 25, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday deferred the confirmation of the nomination of Rodolfo Dia Robles as the Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in New York City in the United States.
The CA Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, earlier conducted a hearing on the appointments and nominations of 54 officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), including Robles.
During the hearing, Robles was grilled by the committee on several issues including the country’s arbitral award over the West Philippine Sea dispute, the President’s order to shun loans from 18 countries that supported the UN Human Rights Council’s resolution calling for a probe on the summary killings in the country.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan asked Robles about the national policy on China, noting that 90 percent of Filipinos would want the Philippine government to regain control over the West Philippine Sea.
“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.
Robles answered: “I think what the government is doing, is doing it within its proper resources. We are actually trying to strengthen our military capability… But at the moment, we are actually not able to do anything except [raise] protests one after other 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 issue of the suspension of negotiations on grants and loans with countries that signed the UNHRC resolution.
“Are you hoping [for] extensions to the policy or [its] suspension? Are you willing to bring this matter up to the President and say perhaps there could be a better approach to do this on a case-to-case basis?” Pangilinan asked.
Robles replied that the suspension would not affect the country’s relationship with security partners, such as Australia.”
He also noted that it had not been determined if the financial assistance being offered by the 18 countries would be “favorable” to the country.
“It’s not an abolition or deletion,” Robles said. “To my mind, it’s not permanent. And it’s something that should be subject to further exam and analysis of these loans. I am open to further study on this.”
The committee then recommended the confirmation of the appointment of the other 53 officials. But it held a caucus to discuss the nomination of Robles.
It was Sen. Risa Hontiveros who motioned to call for the panel caucus, saying that there were still issues that would need clarification in terms of Robles’ answers to the panel’s questions.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the CA Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Robles “disappointed” some members of the panel.
“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.
In an earlier interview, Robles said he answered the panel’s questions “to the best of his knowledge” considering that he came from the private sector.
The powerful CA confirmed the appointments and nominations of 53 other DFA officials.
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