The social welfare committee of the powerful bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) deferred on Tuesday, November 22, the public hearings on the fitness of Erwin Teshiba Tulfo to become the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary because of citizenship issues and his libel suit conviction appealed before the Supreme Court.
The decision followed a closed door session requested by Tulfo himself to answer questions related to his having served with the US Army and being stationed in Europe from 1988 to 1992. The issue was raised by Representative Oscar Malapitan.
Representative Rodante D. Marcoleta said only those who are citizens by birth, citizens by naturalization or by permanent residency can one join the US defense department.
Another issue was Tulfo’s being convicted on four counts of libel by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court filed by one person.
The conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. It is now on appeal with the Supreme Court.
The libel issue was raised by Marcoleta who said the conviction for libel involves moral turpitude.
The hearing chaired by Representative Greg G. Gasataya also elicited the information that Tulfo has 10 children by four women.
Tulfo said he is on "good speaking terms with the four mothers of his children.”
“Due to some concerns of the members as raised by Congressman Marcoleta and the motion of Senator Imee to get further documentation and opinions from experts, I move to defer our deliberation of the nominee, Secretary Erwin Tulfo,” CA Majority Leader Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.
Before the deferment, Senator Francis Escudero defended Tulfo’s appointment in today’s CA public hearing. He reminded the body on the pending bills filed before Congress to decriminalize libel. Escudero cited the pending bills following the issue raised by Marcoleta against Tulfo.
“I would like to state for the record as well that there are many pending bills, both in the House and in the Senate, to decriminalize libel...I myself, I’m an author of a bill seeking to decriminalize libel. So if this will be taken against the nominee and later on that bill is approved by the Congress, I think it will be prejudicial to say the least and unfair if we would be taking that against him,” he said.