Leftist lawmakers slam CA for ‘bias vs poor’

Bea Cupin
Leftist lawmakers slam CA for ‘bias vs poor’
(UPDATED) Lawmakers in the House Makabayan bloc call out the Commission on Appointments for rejecting the DSWD appointment of Judy Taguiwalo, a nominee of the Left in the Duterte Cabinet

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Leftist lawmakers forming the Makabayan bloc have expressed “outrage” over the decision of the powerful Commission on Appointments to reject the appointment of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

“The Duterte administration will be losing a very competent and dedicated DSWD secretary with this rejection and the majority of the people catered to by the DSWD would be the ones to suffer,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said in a statement following the CA decision on Wednesday, August 16.

“The rejection of Ma’am Judy is blatant proof that pro-reform officials will not be tolerated by institutions of traditional politics, hence, is causal of poverty and misery to the people,” said Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao.

Taguiwalo, a University of the Philippines professor and former political detainee, was among the nominees of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.

Duterte had opened to the Left 4 Cabinet posts – in the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the DSWD.

Leftist groups, particularly in Mindanao, had openly campaigned for Duterte during the 2016 elections. The Makabayan bloc counts Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kabataan, and Gabriela as its members.

Lawmakers pinned the blame on the CA for supposedly showing its “bias against the poor,” according to Gabriela Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas.

“The CA once more shamefully reveals its bias against the poor in rejecting Taguiwalo, consequently putting an end to the competent, honest and efficient service that Taguiwalo has offered to the people during her stint,” they said in a statement.

Casilao, meanwhile, said the decision shows “the interest of patronage politics and corruption prevails.”

“Those who are opposing her confirmation clearly are against reforms,” he added.

In a statement, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) expressed  disappointment over the rejection of Taguiwalo, saying this would not benefit the poor.

“The poor already have very little representation and we keep denying them the chance to be served by government officials like Sec Judy, who is a staunch advocate of the poor and marginalized,” said NAPC.

Secretary Liza Maza, the lead convenor of NAPC, is among the Leftists in the Duterte Cabinet.

Kabataan party list, meanwhile, pinned the blame on the “US-Duterte regime.” 

“Duterte has turned its back on his promises of significant reforms and change to the Filipino people, long since they have turned out to be empty rhetoric. Sec Judy’s removal is a victory for the corrupt bureaucracy, neoliberals in the regime, and the de facto military junta and their US masters,” the group said in a statement.

The party list, which is represented by Sarah Elago in the House, said Duterte could have convinced “his supermajority in the Senate and Congress to push for her confirmation.” Elago is a member of the House majority.

Taguiwalo’s rejection by the CA – composed of members from both Houses of Congress – does not quite come as a surprise. She was bypassed by the commission twice.

At the House, Taguiwalo was grilled over a memorandum that essentially weakened endorsement letters from politicians in identifying beneficiaries for its assistance program.

Her links to the CPP-NDF were also questioned during a May 2017 hearing at the Commission on Appointments. Taguiwalo said that while the group recommended her, she is not its member.

De Jesus and Brosas also called on CA members to be transparent, and those who voted against Taguiwalo to stop “hiding behind the rule of voting with a secret ballot.”

Some senators in the CA manifested their vote in favor of Taguiwalo’s confirmation after she was thumbed down by the CA. (READ: Taguiwalo represents ‘all our dreams, aspirations’ – Recto)

Once a Cabinet member is rejected, a president cannot reappoint him or her. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.