The Power and Abuse of the Philippine Commission on Appointments

Another tool that is misused by the legislature is its power to scrutinize and to approve or reject persons named by the President to key positions in government – a power that could have been used to guarantee accountability by people appointed in sensitive posts in the executive branch. This is done through the Commission on Appointments or CA, which is composed of 25 members – 13 from the Senate and 12 from the House of Representatives. It reviews the nominations of Cabinet appointees, as well as colonels and higher-ranking military officials, and the top brass of the Department of Foreign Affairs. During its confirmation hearings, the CA entertains objections and criticisms from the public of officials under scrutiny and then votes to either confirm or reject them.

Presidential nominees, in ensuring proper accountability, are supposed to submit to the CA a variety of documents detailing, among others, their personal background, educational attainment, and statements of assets and liabilities. The CA’s Appointments Review and Investigation Division, or ARID, also prepares a report on the nominee for the CA members’ perusal. But a PCIJ investigation found that CA members hardly bother to read documents pertaining to a candidate and shows interest in a presidential nominee only when they need favors from him or her. The fate of a presidential nominee is usually determined, not by the Commission on Appointments itself, but by whoever is president, with the help of members of the ruling party in the CA.