THERE is actually nothing new about the revelations made last week by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves that some members of the House of Representatives in the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) have been demanding either money or favors in exchange for his and other Cabinet members’ confirmation.

Sec. Teves spoke of “requests in kind” relayed to him by unnamed CA members from the House for appointments in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) for their relatives and friends. Outgoing Negros Oriental Rep. Herminio Teves confirmed his son’s disclosure, saying that at least P5 million was being asked to win his confirmation. Later, former agriculture secretary Domingo Panganiban also accused eight congressmen-members of the CA for demanding P80 million worth of projects from his department for his confirmation.

House members are demanding that Rep. Teves name names, claiming that the accusations have tarnished the reputation of all 12 congressmen who sit in the CA. But it’s not as if the Commission on Appointments enjoys an unsullied reputation. A body composed of legislators — 13 senators and 12 representatives — that has the final say on appointments in the Cabinet, constitutional bodies, presidential commissions, the military and the diplomatic service, the CA has been known more for the rampant favor-swapping, undue pressure, patronage and even corruption that attend the confirmation of government officials.

In a 1999 report by the PCIJ, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago described the commission as “basically a horse-trading agency, a completely political agency.”

Read the PCIJ report on the Commission on Appointments.

Santiago, who was herself bypassed by the CA as agrarian reform secretary during the Aquino administration, said that the political accommodations follow the quid pro quo rule. “I won’t object to your protégé as long as you don’t object to mine. So, it’s really horse-trading or log-rolling at work. The personal merits of the nominees take a backseat and are just considered irrelevant.”

In the same report, another senator, Juan Flavier, also disclosed his experience with the CA in clinching his post as health secretary in 1992 and how he was asked by members of the commission regarding contracts, projects and employment of certain individuals.

Because he felt “very vulnerable,” being up for confirmation then, Flavier said he had to play along. But at the same time he imposed rules on those who tried to use their influence to corner contracts either for themselves, their friends or relatives.

First, he demanded that the contractors become registered Department of Health (DOH) bidders. Second, they should win in the bidding process. Flavier’s role would then be to ensure that the winning bidder gets the contract without additional problems along the way.

As for the politicians who wanted their people employed in hospitals or within the DOH bureaucracy, Flavier says he demanded that all recommendees meet all requirements for the jobs they wanted. “If they wanted to be hospital directors, but they didn’t have masters in hospital administration, don’t even talk to me, because that’s first line,” he says.

A former Cabinet member under President Fidel V. Ramos even recalled one representative who broached a request that he found “distasteful.”

According to the ex-Cabinet member, the congressman had first persuaded him to host a dinner for the CA’s Lower House contingent. When the table was being cleared for coffee and dessert, the congressman pulled the would-be department secretary aside and bluntly asked for P1 million. The then nominee says he protested that he didn’t have that kind of money. But the congressman was insistent, he says, and even told him that “sa department mo, madali mong makukuha yan (you can easily get that from your department).” The ex-department secretary says he blanched, but managed to blurt out, “Well, I am not getting into government to do that.”

Iyon ang pinakagarapal (That was the most crass),” says the former Cabinet member of the P1 M demand. “It was as if you were buying, or had to buy your confirmation.”

Yet even when extortion is not involved, some legislators don’t seem to feel any sense of impropriety, at the very least, about their actions. Losing administration senatorial candidate and outgoing Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, in an interview on GMA Network’s Palaban to be aired tonight, even defends congressmen asking for favors — in the form of projects for their districts — from appointees being subjected to confirmation, seeing nothing wrong with the practice.

“It happens every day, it happens during deliberations on the budget. Every congressman would want to have a lot of allocations for his district. Because that is why they are elected…so that we can represent them in the House of Representatives so we can bring in a lot of projects in our districts. There’s nothing wrong with that,” said Pichay, the head of the House contingent to the CA.

Pichay is the same congressman who, at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal, found nothing wrong with candidates making phone calls to election officials.

5 Responses to A ‘horse-trading agency’



June 29th, 2007 at 12:47 am

And I wonder why the Death Penalty for plunder/corruption was abolished by Congress. I will repeat it again and again and again:


Marcos’ cancerous legacy of corruption needs to be eradicated.

Bring back the death penalty!!!!!

Hmmmm, if there is no capital punishment for corruption, is it worthwhile to annihilate all the corrupt? Worse thing that can happen is just go to jail. Are Filipinos willing to go to prison (since there is no death penalty) to cleanse the government of corruption? Are we that idiotic to tolerate or condone corruption? And we complain why our country is in abject poverty?



July 4th, 2007 at 8:18 am

I guess you can blame the human rights advocates for abolishing the death penalty just because it was fashionable to be pro-life. Corrupt government officials deserve no less.



July 4th, 2007 at 8:37 am

Even without the Death Penalty for the Crime of Corruption, at the very lest the Corrupts should have been bundled up and thrown to jail among murderers and rapist, but instead they are among us living in their mansions, driving their MB and Lexuses and Bimmers and keep Corrupting more, and never mind they also get away from other crimes like murders and even rape….



July 4th, 2007 at 6:49 pm

hindi nga mapakulong death sentence pa?

what i know, only those small fishes in the govt (the rank and files) are the ones being caught and sent to prison with long sentences. but not the top brass.

i agree with naykika, it doesn’t have to be a death verdict. as long as those corrupt officials are caught and justly sent to prison, life sentence is acceptable.


The Commission on Appointments : More Transparency Please!

September 3rd, 2010 at 9:38 am

[…] Former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves revealed in 2007 that some members of the CA asked for favors while he was facing the confirmation body for his appointment. This claim was confirmed by Rep. Herminio Teves, the secretary’s father, even mentioning a figure of 5 Million Pesos in exchange for the confirmation. Former Agriculture Secretary also claimed that some congressmen asked for 80 Million Pesos in projects for his confirmation. (Read more about the story here.) […]

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