Taguiwalo’s ironic rejection

OPPOSITION senators could only frown upon the rejection of the confirmation of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Sec. Judy Taguiwalo especially since those who thumbed her were mostly administration allies.

The development did not escape the prying eyes of members of the Liberal Party (LP) in the Senate led by its president Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, saying that the Duterte administration lost a committed Cabinet official.

“In the 14 months that Taguiwalo was at the helm of the DSWD, we have seen her continue the Aquino administration’s successful conditional cash transfer (CCT) or 4Ps program which benefitted 4.4 million Filipino families,” he said.


Very Qualified

Even Sen. Sonny Angara agreed that Taguiwalo was very qualified for the job, even as he was not able to participate in the previous confirmation hearings of the latter as he took his oath as Commission on Appointments (CA) member only last Wednesday, replacing Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito.

What’s ironic about Taguiwalo’s confirmation proceedings, unlike in the case of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Gina Lopez, was that there were no oppositors to her appointment.

“Each member has his own appreciation of the qualifications of an appointee,” Sen. Angara, who also voted for her confirmation, said.

It’s unfortunate, Sen. Recto said, that Taguiwalo was rejected despite possessing the qualities needed to be an ideal DSWD secretary – competence, compassion and commitment.

“We can never ask for a package as complete as her. She had been serving DWSD's clientele long before Digong thought of running for mayor. So if we would like to know her views about poverty, we can leaf through the forest of newsprint that contains her writings,” he said.

“But if we would like to know if she really cares about the poor, then her stints in factories, in farms and in forests are enough to dispel any doubt” he noted. 

“The nominee should not be dismissed as one of the token Leftists in the Cabinet. She was not put there as a memento to prove Digong's Big Tent approach in forming a government. Rather, I believe that she holds the post by virtue of her ability, and not by her affiliation,” Angara pointed out.  


Unfortunate Development 

Sen. Pangilinan also lauded Taguiwalo’s firm stance on some issues even if they were contrary to the pronouncements of President Duterte and his allies in Congress such as in the lowering the age of criminal liability of minors.

Sen. Bam Aquino, a member of LP, said her replacement will have major challenges ahead like sustaining the CCT program and ramping up its implementation.

“It’s unfortunate that Taguiwalo did not have enough votes for her confirmation, even with my colleagues vouching for her integrity and work ethic,” he said.

“Our secretary of DSWD will need a passion to address inequality in the Philippines to ensure the effectiveness of our poverty alleviation programs,” he added.


Guts and Grit

Senators Pangilinan, Aquino along with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Minority Leader Frank Drilon all voted in favor of the confirmation of Taguiwalo.

Sen. Recto, sources said, prepared a speech congratulating Taguiwalo’s “confirmation”, which, as how things turned out, did not happen.

Nonetheless, Sen. Recto hailed Taguiwalo’s “guts and grit” on the floor, when he disclosed that he voted for her confirmation.

He also recognized her experience in fighting the Marcos dictatorship, including time as political prisoner in three jails which he said should have made her confirmation automatic.

Recto described Taguiwalo’s curriculum vitae an intellectual at home in the academia.

“Indeed, her CV catalogues, in fine print, the research papers, articles and books she had written. But what is not there are her other engagements in her storied life which I believe makes her qualifications more sterling and prove without doubt her fitness to perform the duties of the office she holds,” the senator said in his prepared speech.

“To those who would see this as impediment to a Cabinet post, here's my rebuttal: Political imprisonment is no bar to public office and neither is the taking up of arms when conditions warrant.

“I think, Mr. President, that it is her work during the "unsalaried phase" of her checkered career which is her biggest qualification in holding the DSWD portfolio,” he added.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
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