MANILA – In an impromptu press conference called after the bicameral Commission on Appointments rejected with finality her nomination, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo listed what might have earned her the negative votes in Wednesday’s CA meeting.
One, her opposition to the tax reform package approved by the House and now pending in the Senate, which she believed would be disadvantageous for the poor. Two, her objections to pork barrel. These are the first things that came to her mind as reasons for her rejection, she said, because she had not stolen any money from the government, and she had tried to deliver swiftly on DSWD’s programs.
She said, “I have served the people well. I gave my all, and I am proud to say that my integrity remains intact. And I have never once lost sight of the people I have sworn to serve in full fidelity… Isang karangalan ang makapaglingkod sa bayan bilang DSWD Secretary kahit sa maikling panahon [It was an honor to serve the country as DSWD Secretary even for a short time].”
She accepted the CA’s decision, but believed it did not reflect the people’s sentiments about her.
Taguiwalo added that if the CA had been looking at competence, integrity and track record, there was no reason for her not to be confirmed.
She had seen the weaknesses in the DSWD, and strove to correct them. She said she had also done her best to live by the values of the agency, which she had crafted during her term: swift and caring service that was untainted by corruption, and provided fairly to all communities.
Taguiwalo listed her key accomplishments during her stint in the DSWD:
• responding to disaster-stricken communities;
• issuing Memorandum Circular 9 which states that a person does not need a congressman’s referral in order to access the DSWD’s services; and
• ordering audits to find out what became of the funds for the survivors of storms Yolanda, Pablo, Sendong, and the 7.2 magnitude quake in Bohol.
She recalled how her insistence at treating communities fairly, particularly the provision of aid for the lumad (indigenous people), became a source of intrigue because they were accused of being members of the New People’s Army. But she stressed that it was the DSWD’s mandate to help them, being unarmed and victims of displacement from their homes.
“Hindi dito nagtatapos ang ating laban. Ako naman ay serve the people mula’t sapul pa sa iba’t ibang arena (The fight does not end here. My motto has always been ‘serve the people’,” she said, adding that the DSWD was not the only place where she could help others.
As to what she would miss now that she no longer held the government post, Taguiwalo joked that the perks of being DSWD Secretary were that she had a driver and a vehicle. She said she was used to taking the MRT, anyway.
Taguiwalo thanked all her supporters, including the senators who had stood by her. Those who went on record as having voted for her confirmation were: Senators Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, Migz Zubiri, Kiko Pangilinan, Frank Drilon, Bam Aquino and Sonny Angara.
As the voting was done in executive session and through secret balloting, there was no way of knowing exactly who voted to reject Taguiwalo, unless the particular lawmakers went on record, as the LP contingent did, for example.
If Taguiwalo were to sing just like what rejected Environment Secretary Gina Lopez did after the CA’s decision, Taguiwalo said she would choose “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables.
“Walang forever sa posisyon, pero may forever ho sa paglilingkod sa bayan, sa integridad, at sa commitment ng pagmamahal sa bayan (There’s no [government position that lasts] forever, but when it comes to serving the people, to integrity, and to commitment to love one’s country, forever does exist),” she said.
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