THE Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the appointments of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

CA committee on executive chairperson Representative Manuel Sagarbarria said there is “no better person” aside from Bersamin who can directly and efficiently assist the president in the management affairs of the government.

"Suffice it to say, Mr. Bersamin is among the brilliant legal minds of our country today...His extensive legal background and his dedication to public service has proven him to be the perfect choice for the post," he said.

“Coming from the Judiciary and now to the Executive, he certainly knows the intricacies of government,” he added.

Bersamin was appointed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in September following the resignation of his long-time aide, lawyer Victor Rodriguez, amid his involvement in the sugar importation fiasco.

Bersamin served as associate justice in the Court of Appeals in March 2003 before being appointed to the Supreme Court as associate justice in 2018 and later as chief justice by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

While serving as an associate justice, Bersamin voted in favor of the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, as well as the Mindanao martial law declaration and extension due to the Marawi siege and the continuous detention of Senator Leila de Lima over drug charges.

He was also part of the unanimous vote declaring the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund or the pork barrel as unconstitutional.

Bersamin also became controversial when he voted in favor of the burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The president executive secretary, which at often times called as the “little president,” assists the top government official of the country in the administration of special projects and affairs of the government, implementing presidential directives, orders and decisions and decide for and in behalf of the President on matters not requiring personal presidential attention, among others.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda also gave her “complete and unequivocal support” to Bersamin considering his experience and character.

"With all the problems in the country that the Executive Secretary, known as the Little President, has to handle, having been the Chief Justice of our land with such esteemed vision and character, there is no need to delay, nothing to investigate with Chief Justice Bersamin as executive secretary," she said.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the CA Committee on Finance Senator Imee Marcos vouched for Diokno’s qualifications highlighting his competence, experience and commitment to public service.

"These are indeed tough and uncertain times that will challenge even the toughest and men most certain in their competence, experience and commitment," Marcos said.

"As such, it is imperative that our secretary of Finance and the head of the department tasked to formulate fiscal and tax policies as well as to manage public debt should not only be a seasoned public servant and public finance but also a person clearly committed to the pursuit of excellence," she added.

Senators like Grace Poe and Jinggoy Estrada also expressed support for Diokno's appointment.

Poe said Diokno understands the needs of the Filipino people as she recognized hiscontributions in the passage of various economic legislations such as the amendment to the Anti-money Laundering Act, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act and the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act.

Diokno served as the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 2019 until he was appointed by Marcos as the secretary for finance.

He also worked at the Department of Budget and Management from 1998 to 2001 and from 2016 to 2019.

Last week, there had been reports of an impending change of leadership in the Department of Finance (DOF) which was later dismissed by Marcos himself saying it was “fake news.”

The DOF, according to the Philippine official gazette “is responsible for the management of the government’s financial resources including policy formulation, revenue generation, resource mobilization, debt management, and financial market development.”

It is also tasked with the rationalization, privatization, and public accountability of corporations and assets owned, controlled, or acquired by the government. (SunStar Philippines)