DECEMBER 19, 2006 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - Twelve members of President Arroyo’s Cabinet have not yet been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) and their appointive status would likely remain for the rest of the year as Congress adjourns for a month starting Friday.

The CA will hold its last meeting tomorrow and as of yesterday, none of the Cabinet members are in the lineup of officials scheduled for confirmation.

Based on the list of pending nominees at the CA, the unconfirmed are: Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr.; Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral; Health Secretary Francisco Duque III; Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.; Trade Secretary Peter Favila; Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez; Secretary of Education Jesli Lapus; Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla; Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri; Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno; Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves.

The 12 officials, however, have been reappointed by the President after they were bypassed in previous sessions of the CA.

The reasons for the failure of the officials to get confirmed by the CA vary from the demand for additional documentary requirements to the demand of CA members to ask more questions from the nominees.

Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., also chairman of the CA, said that the commission would try to accommodate Neri and Lapus this Wednesday. He said the appointment of Reyes could also be considered.

If the officials do not get confirmed by Wednesday they would have to be reappointed by the President, Villar explained.

Congress adjourns session Thursday for the traditional Christmas break and would resume its sessions on Jan. 22 next year.

GMA vows full cooperation with Church on moral transformation By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 12/19/2006

President Arroyo vowed to cooperate with the Catholic Church in pushing for "a complete moral transformation of our nation" even as Palace officials denied that the administration is being dictated upon by religious groups on political affairs.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye also said Mrs. Arroyo does not feel alluded to when the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for character change among politicians instead of Charter change, which is being pushed by the administration.

"Good values are the foundation of a stable democratic society and we hope that the Church will continue to take the lead in this advocacy as we vow our full cooperation in laying the ground for political, social and economic reforms that President Arroyo has upheld under her watch," Bunye said.

He said values transformation is the root of the public’s clamor for change and the national leadership has always recognized this vital aspect of nation-building.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo thanked the organizers of the prayer rally for the peaceful event and commended the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces for ensuring the safety of participants.

He denied that the Arroyo administration is now under the thumb of religious groups that can threaten massive and possibly destabilizing rallies to oppose certain policies of government. — With Pia Lee-Brago

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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