By Reynard Magtoto
“Do you hear the People sing?” Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo shared this song from Les Miserables in an impromptu press conference, Wednesday, called after the bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) finally rejected her nomination.
Just like former DENR secretary Gina Lopez, Taguiwalo remained positive despite the CA’s rejection on her nomination as secretary of DSWD.
It was noted that Lopez sang her favorite song, “I Believe I Can Fly” after CA rejected her appointment as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
While Taguiwalo shared her song “Do you hear the People sing?” to the people saying that “Kung wala na ako sa Department of Social Welfare and Development, nasa hanay ako ng mamamayan na tumitindig sa tama, sa bayan at sa mga mahihirap.”
“I think to be rejected like Gina Lopez is a bunch of honor because we never told we were corrupt. We stood in principle,” Taguiwalo added.
Lumad students cheered Sec. Judy
Taguiwalo went straight to her supporters at the gates of Senate right after the deliberation and spoke to a crowd of supporters, including lumad students from the “bakwit lumad school” and their parents, who trooped to Senate to show support for her confirmation.
Despite receiving the decision to reject her as DSWD chief, Taguiwalo asked her supporters “Confirmed ba ako sa inyo?” and with cheers, they answered “Confirmed!”
She thanked the confirmation of the lumad students and supporters. After all, CA’s decision was not a lost for Taguiwalo.
In the last analysis, according to Taguiwalo, the most important thing is that the people recognize her honest and uncorrupted public service in the government.
“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 and array,” said Taguiwalo.
The lumad students, as well as their parents and teachers, belong to the Save Our Schools (SOS) network who are part of the lumad evacuees currently staying and holding classes at the International Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
They were forced to evacuate due to intensifying military operations in their communities and schools in Mindanao and threats of bombing their schools from President Rodrigo Duterte and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Ano.
Their participation in the rally is their way of thanking Taguiwalo for her help in recognizing the right of the lumad people to education as DSWD secretary and as a former professor who was responsible for setting up the Save Our School network in UP Diliman.
During her confirmation hearing, Taguiwalo was questioned on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, her stand on tax reform program and the proposed national identification system, and her connection with the underground National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which had nominated her for the post.
President Rodrigo Duterte gave Taguiwalo six ad interim appointments before the CA rejection. However, at least 13 CA members constituting the commission’s majority voted against the secretary’s confirmation.
The CA resolution read by Senator Joel Villanueva did not give a reason for their negative vote.
This only left speculations for Taguiwalo on possibilities of the rejection. She mentioned her stand against Pork Barrel; views on economic policies such tax reforms as anti-people; her stand in helping communities and lumads who are red-tagged as NPAs; her position to continue peace process and her links with the left.
“It is an honor to serve the people as a DSWD secretary even for a short time,” said Taguiwalo respecting the CA’s decision as collective body.
She added “I believe the CA decision does not reflect the feelings of the people. I fully trust my people, to whom I am responsible.”
According to Taguiwalo, her life has always been devoted to serving the people and the decision of CA to reject my appointment will no way deter or distract her from serving the people.
Moreover, Taguiwalo said the important thing is that it is the people who will make sure that this department (DSWD) will continue to serve them with concern, without corruption and fair treatment.
“Walang forever sa position, pero may forever sa paglilingkod sa bayan,” she said.
She acknowledged and extended her gratitude to Duterte, the only president, who gives space to members from the left. (BaretangBikolnon.com/Photos from Kilab Multimedia)