MANILA, Philippines – As her fellow progressive leader at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is expected to face rough sailing before the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) chief Judy Taguiwalo appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte not to justify the lies being spread about her.
Taguiwalo, whose appointment was rejected by the CA earlier this month, said there was no truth to the “reports” being peddled by Duterte that she had channeled the DSWD’s conditional cash transfer fund or the allocation for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
The former DSWD chief said that when she started working at the agency, she declared that the 4Ps “would not be expanding” and thus there was no way to re-channel or give the fund to other beneficiaries because the list of recipients “was already in place when I became secretary.”
“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,” Taguiwalo said in a statement issued Tuesday, August 29.
She said that if there had 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”, Taguiwalo said.
Last year, Duterte assured families of soldiers slain by Abu Sayyaf terrorists of government support that included their automatic enrollment in 4Ps.
“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,” said Taguiwalo.
4Ps fund used to buy bullets, guns for NPA rebels?
During a press conference in San Fernando, Pampanga on Monday, Duterte said Taguiwalo was being “suspected” of giving the “bulk of the money” from 4Ps “to the NPA.”
The chief executive said one possible basis for the suspicion was his “guidance” to Taguiwalo not to be too strict in giving aid to poor families.
“Pagka pagkain, huwag mo nang pigilan ‘yan. Kung ang pera na binibigay ni Taguiwalo, para na rin sa mga mahirap, may mga hirap na NPA, may mga gutom rin na hindi NPA, mas marami kaysa NPA, sabi ko, ‘Okay lang ako,'” said Duterte.
[If it’s food, don’t stop it. If the money being given by Taguiwalo is for the poor and there are poor NPAs and there are also hungry people who are not NPAs and they are more than the NPAs, I said, ‘It’s okay with me.'”]
The chief executive said there were also suspicions that the DSWD fund might have been used to buy bullets and guns for the communist rebels, especially with the announcement of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison to intensity attacks against government forces following the President’s May 23 martial law declaration in Mindanao.
“Kaso lang, baka ‘yong pera, sabi nga ng…baka naibili ng mga bala o armas because of the pronouncement of Sison that they are expanding, that they are recruiting,” Duterte said.
Taguiwalo said on Tuesday that “had the President’s allies questioned me regarding this issue during the CA hearings or even during the congressional deliberations on the 2018 budget I would have given them answers that are easily verifiable.”
Mariano expected to face tough CA hearing
Meanwhile, Taguiwalo’s comrade, DAR chief Rafael Mariano, is expected to face a tough hearing by the CA on Wednesday as 10 oppositions had been filed against the leftist leader’s confirmation.
As listed in the CA’s notice of meeting, the oppositions were filed by the following:
–Noel A. Mallari and others
–Manuel O. Gallego Jr.
–Ricardo V. Quintos
–Rodel Mesa and Angelito Bais
–Roberto Nidera and others
–Barangay Sta. Catalina in Tarlac City, Tarlac
–Barangay Asturias in Tarlac City, Tarlac
–Barangay Motrico in La Paz, Tarlac
–Edgar V. Aguas
–Manolito B. Dagatan and Hernani P. Geronimo
On Tuesday, two organizations supporting Mariano — the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA) — alleged that the “Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos are behind moves to oppose” the DAR chief’s confirmation.
“This is not surprising…as the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos are hacenderos and plantation owners. As such they are against any genuine agrarian reform, which Ka Paeng advocates,” said UMA Secretary General John Milton Lozada.
The Lorenzos, who own Lapanday Foods Corp. in Mindanao, are the majority owners now of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac (CAT). They also own two subsidiaries of CAT, namely Luisita Land Corp. (LLC) and Agrikulto Inc.
Opposers to Mariano’s confirmation ‘minions’ of Cojuangcos, Aquinos, Lorenzos?
UMA and AMBALA alleged that those opposing Mariano’s confirmation such as Bais, Mallari, Nidera, Aguas, and the barangay councils of Sta. Catalina, Asturias, and Motrico “are from Hacienda Luisita and the minions of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos.”
“All of them like their landlord/oligarch patrons are against the decisions of Sec. Mariano…to junk Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO)s’ appeal to exempt 358 hectares from land reform and the revocation of the conversion order of Luisita Realty Corp. (now LLC), Luisita Park Inc. (LIPCO) and RCBC for failure to develop the lands covered by the conversion order within 5 years from the date of the said order,” the grouops said.
They claimed that Nidera and the barangay council of Sta. Catalina “were involved in the violent ejection of farmers who had been tilling 104 hectares of land since 2005 and is part of the TADECO lands which Ka Paeng recently ruled in favor of the peasants.”
Also, according to the groups, Aguas, who is also the barangay captain of Central, was allegedly a recipient of P3.5 million in DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) funds from the Aquino administration for a small multi-purpose hall in Barangay Central in Hacienda Luisita.
“He is also one of the stockowners of CAT and like the rest of the above are all alleged brokers of the aryendo or leasehold system to dummy financiers of the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos,” the groups said.
“This includes Agrikulto Inc. whose main function is to engage in sugarcane farming on leased agricultural lands to ensure and increase the cane supply to be milled by the parent company CAT,” said UMA and AMBALA.
They said Agrikulto Inc. “is the principal employer together with CAT of the almost 900 sacadas from Mindanao who were trafficked to work in Hacienda Luisita and in other sugar cane areas in Central and even Northern Luzon.”
CA rejection of Mariano means Duterte gov’t siding with oligarchs
Meanwhile, Dagatan and Geronimo, allegedly both officials of Lapanday Foods Corp., “had defied” Mariano’s decisions to install the MARBAI (Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc.) farmers to their landholdings in in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City allegedly being held by LFC, according to the groups.
“LFC only relented when President Duterte himself showed his support to the MARBAI farmers and to the latter’s determined and concerted efforts to occupy and cultivate their lands,” the groups said.
“It would be wise then for the Commission on Appointments to take notice of these facts in their decision whether to confirm Ka Paeng as DAR secretary on August 30 or not,” said UMA and AMBALA.
The rejection of Ka Paeng as DAR secretary would only show that the present Duterte government is no different (from) hacenderos and oligarchs like the Cojuangcos-Aquinos-Lorenzos of Hacienda Luisita and Lapanday Foods Corp.,” they added.