MANILA - Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Wednesday earned the support of Senator Panfilo Lacson, as she made her case for confirmation in a hearing with lawmakers on Wednesday.
Although they come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, with Lacson being a former chief of police and Taguiwalo a former student activist, the lawmaker lauded the Duterte appointee for coming up with a circular discouraging the practice of congressmen getting favored projects from her agency.
"That’s compelling reason enough not to oppose your confirmation," he said during the hearing.
After he grilled Taguiwalo on her background, Lacson said he stands by his declaration that he supports her confirmation.
Taguiwalo was nominated to the position by the Communist Party of the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte said he would be willing to concede four departments to the communist group if they would join his government.
She and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, also a nominee from the Left, were bypassed in March but were reappointed to their positions the following month.
Due to time constraints, the Commission on Appointments on Wednesday moved for the suspension of the hearing for Taguiwalo's confirmation to a later date.
NOT A CPP MEMBER
During the hearing, Taguiwalo denied that she is a member of the communist movement that nominated her to the portfolio.
"No, sir. I'm a member of the Cabinet and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers," she told Lacson.
"The President asked the CPP-NPA to recommend members from them to the Cabinet. They said we cannot because we are underground, but we recommend persons of ability, persons of integrity, persons of honor to be your member," she added, saying that she serves under the President's pleasure.
Lacson recalled that in 1987, a classmate of his in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was killed by the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communist group.
"Now the government is talking peace with the rebels…I cannot feel but protest in anger kasi wala namang kasalanan 'yun," he said.
The senator then asked Taguiwalo: "Since you are now a member of the Cabinet, do you abhor violence as a means to show dissent against the duly constituted authority?"
Taguiwalo replied that the ongoing armed conflict"is emotional for both sides," explaining that she, too, lost many friends when she was a student activist at the University of the Philippines.
"They died, they died not as combatants; they died because they believe in the same manner that I think most of those who graduated from PMA and those who serve the country believe that they are fighting for the people," she said.
"We are truly sad, we are truly grieving for all the bright and the young ones who died in the ongoing armed conflict for social justice," she added.
Taguiwalo said she is happy to be part of a government pursuing an end to the armed struggle through the peace process "because at the end of the day, we all want to serve the people, we all want to see our country advance in the global world."
"There are reasons, compelling reasons why some of our countrymen and women have decided to take arms, and those are the reasons that are now being addressed by the peace process," she said.
Pressed once again if she rejects violence and told that she may opt not to answer the question, Taguiwalo told Lacson that it is a "a very tricky question."
She recalled that in a rally outside Congress during the First Quarter Storm against the Marcos regime, they "were brutally dispersed" and she saw how her colleagues were hurt.
"I renounce that kind of violence against helpless people," she said.
"As a member of the Cabinet of President Duterte, I renounce violence as it is. I am willing to work with him so that we can put an end to the armed conflict that has beset our country for several decades," she added.