MANILA - (2ND UPDATE) National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza on Monday said she has submitted her letter of resignation to President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Kaninang umaga nag-sumite na ako ng letter of resignation kay Presidente Duterte at sinabi ko na nakapag-isip-isip ako nung panahong hina-harass tayo. I came to the conclusion that I cannot work under those circumstances,” she told reporters.
(I submitted my letter of resignation to President Duterte this morning and I said I thought about the time that I was being harrased. I came to the conclusion that I cannot work under those circumstances.)
Foremost among the reasons she cited for her resignation is the August 14 announcement of the President that the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front has been terminated.
Maza, formerly the representative of Gabriela Party, was appointed in 2016 to the advisory body tasked to craft the government's poverty alleviation agenda and oversee the government's social reform program.
She was nominated by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) after President Duterte offered 4 Cabinet posts as the government sought to broker a peace deal with leftist rebels.
“Nung ako ay sumang-ayon na maging miyembero ng gabinete at maging lead convenor ng NAPC, iyon ay sa pag-asa na makatutulong ako sa pag-facilitate ng pang-ekonomiya at pang-lipunan at pang-pulitikang pagbabago sa ating bayan dahil sa panahong iyon ay aktibo ako sa negosasyong pang-kapayapaan,” she said.
(When I agreed to be a memeber of the Cabinet and be the lead convenor of NAPC, it was based on the hope that I could help facilitate economic, social, and political change in our nation because during that time, I was also active in the peace talks.)
Maza said her last invitation and attendance to a cabinet meeting in Malacañang was September last year, when the peace talks started to get derailed.
She said that an activist like her cannot work with the “old forces” in the Duterte government, citing the rise of former President Arroyo as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
She also mentioned the Marcos family, not only former Senator Bongbong Marcos but also Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, who recently allied herself with the local political party of the president's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
“All of these forces have returned so how can we realize the changes?” Maza asked.
Before Maza's resignation, lawmakers rejected the appointment of Judy Taguiwalo and Rafael Mariano as secretaries of the Social Welfare and Agrarian Reform departments, respectively. They were nominated to the positions by the CPP as well.
Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor Chairman Terry Ridon, also a leftist, was sacked over his supposed excessive travels.
The only high-ranking official from the left remaining in the Duterte administration is Labor and Employment Undersecretary Joel Maglungsod.
NOT SURPRISING AFTER ARREST ORDER
For Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Maza's resignation did not come as a surprise especially since Pres. Duterte "has practically abandoned all the substantial reforms he claimed to undertake," including the peace negotiations with the Communist rebels.
"This unwarranted position was further aggravated when trumped-up charges were revived against her and the other members of the Makabayan 4," he said in a statement.
"Malacanang did not even issue a statement to defend her integrity and instead, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque nonchalantly called her to surrender and supposedly prove her innocence, junking the principle that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
Warrants of arrest were issued against Maza and 3 other former House lawmakers for a 14-year-old double murder case, but a Nueva Ecija court dismissed the charge and the order earlier this month.
Before this, Roque, once a party-list lawmaker and human rights lawyer before joining the administration, said the accused should surrender "if they are innocent...recognize the jurisdiction of the court, and prove their innocence."
After the court dismissal of the murder charges, Roque said Maza may return to work.
- With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News