THE Commission on Appointments (CA) should focus on the competence and performance of a Cabinet official and not on other "extraneous" matters in deliberating their appointments, a Palace official said Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the comment after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman faced the CA on Wednesday where several issues were raised against them.

In particular, the alleged illicit affairs of De Lima were brought up during the confirmation hearing.

"What you would like to see on the deliberations of the Commission on Appointments is really a deliberation on the performance of a particular Cabinet secretary being confirmed. And I think it will be good if the deliberations will be focused on the competence, the performance of a Cabinet official, and not other extraneous matters that does not involve the competence or the performance of the Cabinet official," Lacierda said in a media briefing.

On the proposal to amend the CA rules that once an appointee has been bypassed three times, it could be considered as a rejection to an appointment, the Palace official said that it could be tantamount to limiting the power of a Pesident to appoint.

"The President should have the free hand to appoint people who he believes are competent, that will further the public good," he said.

"I hope they revisit that particular rule, considering the fact that the reasons for being bypassed may not necessarily be based on meritorious grounds, but may be based on some political—some grounds other than merit. But if we’re going to base it on merit, I don’t think our Cabinet secretaries have failed to perform what is expected from them," Lacierda explained.

During the CA hearing, Soliman passed the committee level, while De Lima has yet to be approved.

The deliberations on their appointments would continue next week.

But in the event that the two officials would be bypassed, Lacierda said they would again be appointed ad interim by President Benigno Aquino III. (SDR/Sunnex)