Taguiwalo: Being rejected like Gina Lopez a 'badge of honor'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2017 07:17 PM

Former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Wednesday said getting fate similar to rejected Cabinet member Gina Lopez was "a badge of honor."

"To be rejected like Gina Lopez is a badge of honor for us kasi never kami nasabi na corrupt kami. Tumindig kami sa prinsipyo," Taguiwalo said.

Last May, the Commission on Appointments rejected Lopez's appointment as Environment Secretary after mining stakeholders questioned her crackdown on alleged unsafe mining practices during her 10 months in office.

"Naniniwala ako na hindi sinasalamin ng CA decision ang damdamin ng bayan. Kung ang batayan ng desisyon ay competence, integrity at track record, walang dahilan para hindi ako makumpirma diba?" she said.

ANTI-PORK SECRETARY

Though "not privy to deliberations,"Taguiwalo said her rejection may be tied to her policies against lawmakers who were trying to get DSWD's funds.

"Tumindig ako sa desisyon ng Supreme Court na wala nang pork dapat. Nagpalabas ako ng Memorandum Circular 9 (MC9) para ilinaw na hindi kailangan ng referral ng mga Kongresista para makapag-access ng serbisyo ng DSWD," Taguiwalo told Senate reporters after the CA announced that majority of its members voted for her rejection.

"Meron silang (congressmen) sinasabi na may pera ako dito, may pera ako diyan. Pinarating ko sa aking mga regional director na ang pondo ng DSWD ay common fund at hindi entitlement ni congressman o congresswoman," she added.

Under MC 9, though elected officials may issue referral letters for their constituents, the DSWD "retains the sole authority to determine the beneficiaries" social programs.

"Malinaw ang Supreme Court decision: Sa post enactment ng budget, wala na hong papel ang legislation," she said.

TIES WITH THE LEFT

Taguiwalo said several parties also accused her of using government funds to support the New People's Army as the DSWD used to provide assistance for indigenous tribes including the Lumads who were perceived as communist rebels' affiliates.

"Dahil tinitingnan akong miyembro ng Kaliwa, lahat ng binibigyan ko ng tulong, tinitingnan (as) questionnable," Taguiwalo, who was a political prisoner during the Marcos regime, said.

"Isa pang aspeto ang may gusto talagang maderail ang peace process. Tingin nila isa ako doon sa dapat alisin," Taguiwalo added without dropping names.

SUFFICIENT FUNDS, INSUFFICIENT DISTRIBUTION

During her service as DSWD chief, Taguiwalo said she discovered that the government has enough funds that do not fully reach the public.

"May pera ang gobyerno pero hindi lahat nakakarating sa tao... In fact, 'yun mga opisyal ng departamento, mas mataas pa ang sweldo kaysa sa propersor sa UP," she said.

Taguiwalo said she is moving on from her rejection, and is not keen on providing recommendations for her replacement.

She advised the next appointee and other social welfare officials to stand their ground against political pressure and interference.

"Hindi sapat na makukuha sa isang training how to deal with political interference. Kailangan mo talaga ang lakas ng loob," she said.

-- With reports from Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News