MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday rejected the confirmation of Judy Taguiwalo as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Taguiwalo was bypassed twice prior to her rejection but was reappointed by President Rodrigo Duterte last July 23.
During her confirmation hearing, Senator Gringo Honasan asked Taguiwalo about what she thought the reasons delaying peace process.
Taguiwalo pointed out that she never participated in the peace process but agreed with Duterte when he said that the country could not always be at war.
She said that her own contribution to achieving peace was implementing her agency’s anti-poverty programs.
Honasan, however, pressed her further to which Taguiwalo reminded him that she was no longer a member of the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP), the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“I am not an NDF (National Democratic Front) representative. I was nominated but I am not NDF. I cannot answer your questions,” she said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, asked Taguiwalo if she was in favor for the proposed national ID (identification) system.
Taguiwalo said she had reservations but is open to support it if it would make it easier to determine beneficiaries of the DSWD’s conditional cash transfer program.
Also during the hearing, Taguiwalo reiterated her stand against the Duterte administration’s proposed tax reform program as it could burden the poor.
Manifestations of support
Despite her rejection, several senators manifested support for Taguiwalo including Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto who said that she brought a “fresh take” to the DSWD.
“I would like to state on record my support for the Secretary’s nomination. Unfortunately, she has not hurdled the 13-vote requirement,” Recto said in his speech.
Senator Loren Legarda also manifested support saying it “pained” her that Taguiwalo would no longer be able to defend the DSWD budget.
“I believe in her. I believe she is a no-nonsense government worker who works in the grassroots,” Legarda said.
Other senators who manifested support were Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Pangilinan, Frank Drilon, and Paolo Benigno Aquino.
In a press conference after her confirmation was rejected, Taguiwalo said that her strong stand against tax reform and pork barrel could have been the reasons that led to her rejection.
She said she saw no reason for her to be rejected if the basis alone was competence, integrity and track record but was not surprised by the CA decision.
“I have served the people well. I gave my all and I’m proud to say that my integrity remains intact. I never lost sight of the people I have sworn to serve,” Taguiwalo said noting that there were other ways to help them.
She further said that she believed the CA decision did not reflect the decision of the people who supported her and that the decision would not deter or distract her from serving the people.
“The DSWD is one arena but there’s a life of service outside the DSWD. The only thing I will miss is my driver and car but I’m used to taking the MRT and I won’t pawn my soul for that kind of entitlement,” she quipped.
“Do you hear the people sing?”
Taguiwalo further said: “It was a ‘badge of honor’ to be rejected the same way former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was rejected.”
“I’m in good company. I think to be rejected like Gina Lopez is a badge of honor for us because they can never say we were ever corrupt. We stood by our principles,” Taguiwalo said.
She said that like Lopez, she had her own theme song: “Do you hear the people sing?” from the musical Les Miserables.
Asked if she had plans to return to teaching, she said that she is looking forward to taking a break and visiting her 98-year-old mother.
Before joining the Duterte cabinet, Taguiwalo was a professor at the Department of Women and Development Studies, College of Social Work and Community Development in UP Diliman. PNA-northboundasia.com