MANILA, Philippines – “Nandiyan 'yan dahil sa kagustuhan ng Pangulo (It happened because it’s what President Rodrigo Duterte wanted).”
For leftist lawmakers in the House of Representatives, there is no mystery in the decision of the Commission on Appointments' to reject Judy Taguiwalo as Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) chief: The President didn’t want her there.
“Inilaglag siya ni Pangulong Duterte (Duterte ditched her),” lamented ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio in a press conference on Thursday, August 17.
He pointed out that Duterte did the same in the case of former environment secretary Gina Lopez, who had suffered the same fate.
“Ang CA, kahit sinasabing independent body ito, kukuha 'yan ultimately ng go signal sa Pangulo. Makikita natin 'yung mga nominees ng Pangulo, kahit may opposition... isang hearing, tapos na,” said Tinio.
(Even if you say that the CA is an independent boy, ultimately, it will get the go signal from the President. We can see that in the nominees of the President, even if there is opposition...they are done (confirmed) after one hearing.)
On Wednesday, August 16, the CA rejected the ad interim appointment of Taguiwalo, a University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman professor and former political detainee. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Judy Taguiwalo during crisis situations)
Taguiwalo, who held the post for more than a year, was a nominee of the Philippine Left after Duterte urged them to recommend people for several Cabinet posts including social welfare secretary. (READ: Taguiwalo: CA rejection due to my fight vs pork barrel, tax reform)
She is the third Duterte Cabinet appointee to be rejected by the CA, after Lopez and former foreign secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
The Makabayan bloc had earlier condemned Taguiwalo’s rejection, criticizing the CA, which is composed of members from both houses of Congress – for supposedly being anti-poor. On Thursday, they were more direct in pinning the blame on the commander-in-chief himself, a self-declared leftist.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, for his part, noted that among the last 3 rejections, only Taguiwalo’s could not be explained by the CA members.
In announcing the recommendation of the CA committee on labor and social welfare to reject Taguiwalo on Wednesday, the panel chair, Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario, spoke mostly about her background as a member of the underground movement in her youth.
“Malinaw 'yung signal, lalo na dito a House na ayun na, puwede na, free for all. Wala ngang mabanggit na dahilan. Alam namin natin na ang totoong dahilan 'yung pork stand ni Judy. So siyempre, di nila mabanggit iyon dahil unconstitutional ang gusto nilang mangyari,” Tinio said.
(The signal was clear, that even in the House, it’s a free for all. They couldn't even cite a reason [for her rejection]. We know that it’s because of Taguiwalo’s anti-pork stand. Of course, they could not say that because what they want is unconstitutional.)
Tinio and Zarate were joined by representatives from Gabriela and Kabataan, all members of the leftist Makabayan bloc in the House.
Duterte and the Left have had a complicated relationship in the President’s first year. While he has proclaimed himself “leftist” several times, he has also launched tirades against the Left.
Taguiwalo’s rejection had been anticipated. During a House hearing on the DSWD's proposed 2018 budget, legislators criticized her for releasing a memorandum that, in effect, weakened the power of their endorsements for beneficiaries of the department's Protective Services Program.
Until her final CA hearing on Wednesday, Taguiwalo was grilled over her supposed links to the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The CA is set to tackle the appointment of another Left nominee Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, by the end of the month. The Makabayan bloc does not expect Mariano to make it past the CA as well.
Asked if that will mean their exit from the majority, Makabayan lawmakers told media they’d answer that “at the proper time.” – Rappler.com