Scientist group to CA: Confirm Judy, Ka Paeng, and Gina
We at Agham or Advocates of Science and Technology for the People support the confirmation of progressive Cabinet members Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Ka Paeng" Mariano, and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
After less than a year in office, the 3 Secretaries have implemented pro-people policies and programs. They have also proven their capability to head their respective departments.
Secretaries Taguiwalo, Mariano, and Lopez are facing the Commission of Appointments (CA) again after they were previously bypassed by the powerful body and reappointed by Duterte twice. Despite this, the 3 have continued pursuing policies and programs that have marked a good start for much-needed reforms in the government.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development under Secretary Taguiwalo has become more efficient in service delivery, guaranteeing that resources reach constituents fully and without delay. We can clearly see this in the present DWSD’s disaster response and relief efforts which have been more effective in reaching survivors in disaster-stricken communities compared to the past.
Secretary Judy has also been vocal in refusing to use so-called “disaster pork” for patronage politics where relief is distributed by local politicians to foster the people’s support for them in the next elections.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Mariano, on the other hand, has issued important resolutions such as the moratorium on land use conversion, previously used by landlords to reverse their land’s eligibility for land reform. He has also pushed for land reform and free land distribution as allowed under the limitations of current laws. Mariano has also pushed the same as part of the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The talks have recently reached a breakthrough agreement, in principle, on free land distribution.
Environment Secretary Lopez has also implemented unprecedented policies as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The DENR order for the closure of 23 big mining companies and suspension of 5 large-scale mining operations, along with the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements, is a positive step toward addressing the issues brought about by the current liberalized mining industry which has led to environmental destruction and displacement of communities. DENR's policy to rehabilitate fish pens in Laguna Lake is also a welcome development because this will help clear monopoly interests in the area.
In addition to their individual contributions, it is also necessary to note that the presence of progressive personalities in the Cabinet, particularly Taguiwalo and Mariano, is instrumental in the ongoing peace talks. They have been key figures who have championed the continuation of the peace talks after peace spoilers influenced Duterte to suspend the negotiations in March. Lopez also recently expressed support for the peace talks, acknowledging that “the way to peace is to address the social injustice on the ground.”
In keeping with the spirit of the negotiations on social and economic reforms, the progressive Cabinet members are already implementing immediate reforms that are within their capacity. Mariano’s distribution of land to peasants and Lopez's opposition to big mines, among others, are in tune with the pillars of agrarian reform and national industrialization envisioned by the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms outline.
The staunch opposition to the 3 progressive Cabinet members have only shown that the interests of big businesses and landlords in the government are prevailing over the interests of the Filipino masses. We need to push for the confirmation of Taguiwalo, Mariano, and Sec. Gina who truly champion the people’s concerns. – Rappler.com
JM Ayuste is the acting deputy secretary general of Agham, an organization of patriotic and pro-people scientists and advocates. Agham supports the online campaign #ConfirmGina, #ConfirmKaPaeng, #ConfirmJudy, which was launched by activists and environmental advocates to call on the Commission on Appointments to give its nod to the appointment of the progressive Cabinet secretaries.