Editors' Note: In relation to this report, Rappler apologizes for mistakenly publishing the draft of a story – "Duterte to appoint Nikki Prieto-Teodoro as DSWD chief" – that was still being verified. We have taken down the post. Please see our "Corrections" page for August 2017.
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Commission on Appointments (CA) has rejected the ad interim appointment of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Wednesday, August 16.
The CA plenary made the decision after the CA committee on labor and social welfare recommended the rejection of Taguiwalo's appointment on Wednesday.
In recommending to reject Taguiwalo's appointment, the CA panel chair, Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario said the committee exercised "due diligence" to check whether or not the appointee "suits the position."
Almario said the committee "looked into all angles of her background and character" to ensure that it based its recommendation on "real truth and solid fact...taking into consideration "the best interest of the people."
He noted that during the past confirmation hearings, "questions" were raised against Taguiwalo's appointment. Early in his speech, Almario cited Taguiwalo's participation in the underground movement in her youth.
In her final confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Taguiwalo was grilled on the Conditional Cash Transfer program, her views on the proposed national identification system and tax reform program, and her links with the National Democratic Front (NDF), which had nominated her for the post.
Taguiwalo is the third Duterte Cabinet appointee to be rejected by the powerful body, after former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr and former environment chief Gina Lopez.
'Expecting the worst'
Taguiwalo attended the plenary session which announced the rejection of her appointment.
Just before Wednesday's hearing, Taguiwalo told reporters that she was "hoping for the best but expecting the worst."
“Kung ang batayan ay integrity at competence, walang batayan para hindi ma-confirm ang appointment (If the basis is integrity and competence, there’s no basis not to confirm my appointment),” Taguiwalo told reporters as the CA panel held an executive session on her appointment.
Several senators manifested their support for the confirmation of Taguiwalo – Senators Ralph Recto, Loren Legarda, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. Senator Francis Pangilinan also said all members of the Liberal Party in the Senate who are CA members voted to confirm Taguiwalo.
Under CA rules, President Rodrigo Duterte can no longer reappoint a rejected official. Duterte reappointed Taguiwalo each time the CA bypassed her appointment. An ad interim appointment is deemed bypassed when the CA fails to act on it before Congress goes on session break.
The CA adopted the "3 strikes, you're out" policy in March to limit the number of times an appointee can be bypassed and reappointed. Once the appointee is bypassed for the 3rd time, he or she will face rejection.
Since the adoption of the new rule, the Left's nominee to the post has been bypassed twice during the sine die adjournment on June 2, and the special joint session on July 22.
Congress convened in a special session on July 22 to decide on Duterte's request to extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
At the time, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said that the Senate had agreed to consider the appointment of Taguiwalo and other Cabinet officials bypassed when it was not taken up then. The others are Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.
Taguiwalo's relationship with Congress had been tense in her first year in office.
In August last year, she released an order seeking to end patronage in providing social aid. In that order, she reminded personnel evaluating aid requests that endorsement letters from public officials are "not integral" to the implementation of the DSWD's Protective Services Program.
Taguiwalo's only CA hearing on May 3 turned controversial when Sotto quipped that single mothers like her are "na-ano lang" (just knocked up).
Her struggle to be officially appointed as social welfare chief has launched the #ConfirmJudy campaign on social media. Her supporters held banners outside the Senate building on Wednesday, seeking her confirmation.
Palace ‘saddened’ by CA rejection
Malacañang said it is “saddened” by the CA decision and cited her contributions to the country while supervising the DSWD.
“We are saddened by the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Secretary Taguiwalo had served the Duterte administration with passion, profession and integrity. She made an impact in the lives of many Filipinos in her tenure as DSWD Secretary,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
He said that President Rodrigo Duterte “is now looking and studying for a possible replacement.” – with reports from Camille Elemia/Rappler.com