Erwin Tulfo may not get confirmed by the powerful bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) as Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary before it adjourns for the Christmas break.
“Now, honestly I don’t think he will be confirmed before we adjourn,’’ Senator Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Ejercito Estrada told DWIZ radio in an interview Saturday, Dec. 3.
Asked if Tuflo might get another chance, Estrada said this might happen if the President reappoints him, ‘’(then) we will tackle his nomination”.
Queried if Tulfo has serious issues bugging his confirmation as a Cabinet member, Estrada replied: ‘’I can’t divulge it because we met in an executive session.’’
The senator from San Juan said that Tulfo is ‘’very competent as secretary of DSWD, he is doing reforms in the department”.
‘’Masipag si Secretary Erwin, thats why nakakahinayang kung di nya maipagpatuloy (He works hard. It is a pity if he would not be able to continue his job),’’ he pointed out.
Tulfo has already been bypassed by the 25-member Commission and, based on s statement of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, he would be considered rejected if bypassed for the third time, Estrada said.
Last Nov. 22, the CA’s social welfare committee deferred Tulfo’s confirmation due to citizenship issues and a pending libel suit in the Supreme Court (SC).
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. This issue was raised by Caloocan City Rep. Oscar Malapitan.
SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante 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 CA. It is now on appeal with the Supreme Court (SC)
The libel issue was raised by Marcoleta who said the conviction for libel involves moral turpitude.
The hearing chaired by Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya also elicited the information that Tulfo has 10 children by four women.
Tulfo said he is on a good speaking terms with the four mothers of his children.
“Due to some concerns of the members as raised by Congressman [Rodante] Marcoleta and the motion of Senator Imee [Marcos] 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 Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.
Before the deferment, Senator Francis Escudero defended Tulfo’s appointment in Saturday ’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.