Photo by Alex Nueva Espana/PRIB
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Judy Taguiwalo had expected that the Commission on Appointments (CA) will reject her ad interim appointment.
“Hindi naman ako nagugulat (I was not surprised)…. I have served the people well and I gave my all, and I’m proud to say that my integrity is intact,” Taguiwalo said as she read her statement shortly after her rejection on Wednesday, August 16.
In a press conference after the CA voted to reject her, Taguiwalo said that the decision could be due to her opposition to the tax reform package and her order to limit the referrals of lawmakers for beneficiaries to access aid.
“I was not privy to the deliberations. That’s only my conjecture. What else do they want from me? I never stole money, in terms of service delivery, we tried our best to provide immediately…. What I did was I stood by the decision of the Supreme Court that there should be no pork barrel,” Taguiwalo said.
Taguiwalo issued a memorandum in August 2016, reminding DSWD personnel that recommendation letters from lawmakers and politicians have no bearing in granting aid. This met criticism from members of the House of Representatives during hearing for the department’s 2017 budget. (READ: Congressmen on DSWD's 'anti-padrino' memo: We hold the money)
“I’ve reported to the President about this debate whether the lawmakers have a budget in the DSWD funds or none. What I told them is that if it is provided in the General Appropriation Act…there would be no problem about it. But for them to tell me that they have funds [for their constituents] in the budget, I told them they don’t have it,” she told reporters.
During the CA hearing earlier on Wednesday, she was also asked about her position on the tax reform package. Taguiwalo reiterated her stand that she is in favor of the income tax reform but not the excise tax on fuel and other products. She explained that the poor do not benefit from lessening workers’ take home pay because they are engaged in informal work. It’s the inflationary effects of the excise tax that will directly hit them.
Taguiwalo was visibly affected as she faced reporters, but instead made light of the heavy news by quipping that she would sing like how former environment secretary Gina Lopez took the CA’s rejection after several confirmation hearings.
She refused to sing, but the known activist and University of the Philippines professor said: “To be rejected like Gina Lopez is a badge of honor. To us, we can never say that we did not stand by our principles.”
On record, 13 CA members voted to reject Taguiwalo’s appointment as social welfare secretary. This is a little more than half of the 25-member body. Senator Francis Pangilinan, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, and Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, manifested they voted for her.
Service to the people
After speaking to the media, Taguiwalo immediately went outside the Senate to meet her supporters.
It was only when she spoke to them that the secretary turned emotional.
“Kung ang batayan ng pag-confirm sa akin ay pagserbisyo sa tao, na may malasakit, na walang korupsyon, na patas, pasado ako dapat pero di ako pumasa eh. Ang posibidad lang ay tumindig ako laban sa pork barrel at tumindig ako sa economic policies katulad ng tax reform na sa tingin ko ay anti-mamamayan,” she said
(If the basis for confirming me is service to the people, compassionate and fair service without corruption, I would have passed, but I didn't. The only possibility is that I stood against pork barrel, against economic policies like the tax reform package that I view as anti-people.)
What’s next for Taguiwalo?
The retired UP professor said that she continues to support Duterte in terms of his anti-corruption pledge, progressive, and pro-people policies like free college education. She also called on the President not to give up on the peace talks. – Rappler.com