ERWIN T. Tulfo’s appointment as Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary is unlikely to receive confirmation before Congress goes on Christmas break, the Senate president said on Monday.
“He will be bypassed… and then he will have to be reappointed by the president shorty after that,” Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told a press conference.
Mr. Tulfo’s nomination was delayed earlier after the Commission on Appointments (CA) brought up his American citizenship and conviction on four counts of libel.
“The Commission on Appointments has never confirmed anyone that has a final conviction, so not on my watch would we not study this thoroughly,” he said. “We should first study the legal implication because it’s moral turpitude.”
“There has been legal precedence by the Supreme Court on moral turpitude on the issue of libel,” he said.
“That’s why we want to weigh in with the legal luminaries, we did not outright dismiss him, he’s still a member of the Cabinet, we will just continue with the hearings next year because there’s a lack of material time,” he added.
Mr. Zubiri said that they are just waiting for justices, retired and sitting, to share their expert opinions on the issue.
On the citizenship issue, the Senate leader said it is necessary to receive a certification that Mr. Tulfo is no longer a US citizen.
“If he can just give us documentary proof that he is no longer a US citizen, as he admitted to us that it was only 2021 when he still has his American passport. The information is a bit conflicting, so let’s wait for the next hearing then we’ll just get more details from there,” Mr. Zubiri said.
Mr. Tulfo became an American citizen in 1988.
“I’m not in the authority to come out with my own opinion,” Mr. Zubiri said, “because we want to make sure it is legal, it is correct, it is above board, it is transparent.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan