Ex-Gabriela representative Luz Ilagan is new DSWD undersecretary

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Gabriela Women's Partylist representative Luzviminda Ilagan as social welfare undersecretary.

Malacanang released Ilagan's appointment papers on Thursday, September 14, or a day after they were signed.   

The appointment comes weeks after the Commission on Appointments rejected the appointment of Left-nominated Judy Taguiwalo as social welfare secretary.

Ilagan is a member of Gabriela, a Leftist organization advocating for women's rights. Her appointment seemed to indicate that Duterte was still open to having Leftists in his administration, despite the meltdown of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Ilagan, who also hails from Davao, was supportive of Duterte during the 2016 national elections, and defended him even when he was criticized for supposedly sexist behavior and remarks during the campaign period.

When Duterte came under fire for catcalling a female reporter, a violation of Davao laws, Ilagan, representative of a feminist party, even said catcalling is “not sexual harassment.” Gabriela later clarified its stance on the issue.

She had also asked the public to “accept” Duterte’s Bisaya way of speaking, which administration officials and allies had cited to explain the President's tendency to make hyperbolic statements.

"We have to accept that our President is different and he is working under a cultural way of communicating. Ganoon naman talaga mga Bisaya (That's really how Visayans speak). They are sarcastic. We exaggerate,” Ilagan had said.

During the same 2016 elections, Ilagan ran for Davao City 3rd District Councilor but lost.

Before then, she served as Gabriela Women’s Party Representative in the 14th Congress, from 2007 to 2016. Prior to that, she was a Davao City councilor after being elected to the post in 1998.

Ilagan first worked with Duterte when then President Corazon Aquino appointed her as city councilor, and  Duterte, as Davao City officer-in-charge. He led the city council where Ilagan was a member. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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