MANILA (UPDATE) - Former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo belied accusations cited by President Rodrigo Duterte that she might have used the agency's funds to support the New People's Army (NPA).
"Kasinungalingan 'yung report na 'yan, kung saan man 'yan nakuha ni President, na nagbibigay ang DSWD sa NPA," the former DSWD chief said.
Taguiwalo said funds from the conditional cash transfer program go straight to the Land Bank of the Philippines, and not a single peso passes through the Department of Social Welfare an Development (DSWD).
"Ang Land Bank po ang nagpe-pay out sa beneficiaries ng Pantawid. At ang beneficiaries na 'yan, may listahan na yan na 4.4 million, na andiyan na yan nang dumating kami," she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said some people have accused Taguiwalo of allowing conditional cash transfer funds for the country's poorest families to go to the rebels.
Duterte said the allegations cost Taguiwalo her confirmation but clarified that he never believed in these accusations against the Leftist former Cabinet official.
Taguiwalo said reports that reached Duterte may have come from fake news circulating on social media. She said that during her stint at DSWD, she made an effort to be as transparent as possible.
She added that she tried her best to shield DSWD from the interests of politicians.
"Social media na naman [galing 'yan]. May nakita na 'ko niyan noon na hindi ko na pinansin... Nagkaroon ng buhay ang kasinungalingan na sinimulan ng sinuman," she said.
"'Yung mga transaksiyon ho ng departamento, ma-o-audit 'yan ng COA (Commission on Audit). Alam nila sa panahon ko sinikap kong maging transparent ang mga transaksiyon," she added.
In a statement on Tuesday, Taguiwalo added that had she been questioned on the issue during her appointment hearings, she would have given answers that are "easily verifiable."
"When I first arrived in the DSWD, among my first declarations and actions were to say that the 4Ps program would not be expanding. This means that the 4.4 million beneficiary-households of the program will not increase. These members are from the Listahanan of DSWD based on a nation-wide assessment of the poor. The list was already in place when I became secretary," she said.
"If there have been any additional members, they are the families of soldiers killed in action or those who have been wounded in action who have children aged 0 to 18. This is in compliance with the President's order", she added.
The former social welfare chief reiterated that she had kept true to the President's instructions to ensure that the DSWD provide prompt service to the poor regardless of political affiliation and without any tinge of corruption.
"I have done my best as a member of the President's cabinet and his government and served the people with humility and full transparency. The least I asked of him is to not legitimize baseless accusations against me," she said.
--with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News