TWO Cabinet secretaries of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration faced smooth sailing during the deliberation of the two committees of the Commission on Appointment (CA) on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla breezed through the confirmation process of the Committee on Justice and Judicial Bar Council of the powerful Commission on Appointments.
DOJ Chief Remullla was recommended by the committee for plenary confirmation of his ad interim appointment through CA Majority Floor Leader Luis Raymond Villafuerte Jr., who made the motion to recommend the confirmation.
During the CA deliberation, Senator Joseph Victor JV Ejercito asked the DOJ Chief about his plan to reform the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), which he said still suffers from “the continuous proliferation of illegal drugs and illegal activities” committed by syndicates inside the National Penitentiary.
“What are your plans Sec. Boying? We have here our senators and congressmen, so when the budget season comes, probably we can support the plan of the DOJ secretary on how we will be able to correct and improve our Bureau of Corrections [BuCor], the Bilibid in particular,” Ejercito asked.
Remulla suggested that the government retires Bilibid in Muntinlupa City and instead build regional penitentiaries across the country.
To avoid the immense financial burden, Remulla also suggested that a “lease and transfer” scheme between the local government units (LGUs) and the national government be established, wherein LGUs will fund the construction of their regional prisons, and the national government will lease said facilities for about 30 years.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, for her part, asked Remulla’s views on the entry of foreign nationals, particularly workers of offshore gaming businesses, through the DOJ visa-upon-arrival scheme.
The panel also asked Remulla on topics such as the death penalty, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and drug war cases, among others, as well as his stand on the death penalty.
Remulla said the country’s immigration system needs structural reforms and modernization. He also reiterated the need for witnesses in drug-related cases as he also proposed to amend the Witness Protection Law, which he insisted must cover protection too for law enforcement agents.
“Sana po ay maamyendahan ang Witness Protection Law kung saan puwede silang magsalita laban sa mga kabaro nilang law enforcers,” Remulla said.
Remulla said he is ready to face the challenges of his duties as DOJ chief and vowed to institute several reforms in the Justice Department.
“This, for me, is the most challenging public office I have ever held and hopefully will hold in my entire career as a public servant. And today, I seek the affirmation of this honorable commission to see me fit and ready to serve our people in this capacity,” Remulla said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Benhur Abalos also got the nod of the CA recommending to plenary the approval of the ad interim appointment of the former Mayor of Mandaluyong.
Villafuerte made the motion which Committee Chairperson Sen. Francis Chiz Escudero seconded with no objection.
Abalos, a former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief, said he will review and institute reform in various areas, including human rights, anti-illegal drug operations, and jail congestion.