September 25, 2017, 1:42 am
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Strike 3 and you’re out for Taguiwalo

THE Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday rejected the appointment of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo after more than a year in office, making her the third to exit from President Duterte’s Cabinet this year.

Judy Taguiwalo, a left-wing activist who was jailed during the 1970s martial law era of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, failed to acquire the 13 votes needed to get the approval of the 24-member Commission on Appointments.

Before Wednesday, she had been bypassed twice.

The other two Cabinet members who were rejected are Perfecto Yasay Jr. for foreign affairs and Regina Lopez for environment.

Rep. Joel Mayo Almario, CA committee chair, said a majority vote was reached “against” the confirmation of Taguiwalo.

It was not immediately clear why she was rejected, but speculation had been rife that Taguiwalo’s future was in doubt after the near-collapse of Duterte’s peace process with Communist rebels.

Taguiwalo was nominated to the post by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and Duterte hoped to show inclusivity and demonstrate his commitment to peace talks by giving leftists Cabinet positions.

The other leftists in the Duterte Cabinet are Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

Four senators took to the floor of the chamber on Wednesday to defend Taguiwalo, among them Senate President protempore Ralph Recto, who said the Philippines “can never ask for a package as complete as her.”

“She holds the post by virtue of her ability, not by her affiliation,” he said. “If she’s an ideologue, then the ideology she subscribes to is the same one we believe in and that ideology is to serve the people.”

Recto, Sens. Juan Miguel Zubiri and Juan Edgardo Angara manifested on the floor that they voted in favor of Taguiwalo’s confirmation.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also stood on the floor to manifest that all Liberal Party senators who are part of the CA, also voted for Taguiwalo. The other two are Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.

Senators Vicente Sotto III and Manny Pacquiao also said they voted for Taguiwalo’s confirmation.

Duterte has insisted he does not try to influence the commission, even though he has a legislative supermajority.

Taguiwalo said she accepts the decision of the congressional body, adding that “to be rejected like Gina (Lopez) is a badge of honor. You cannot say that we’re corrupt, we stood for our principles.”

She said she was rejected, most probably because of her stand against pork barrel and the tax reform package of the Duterte administration, which she said would gravely affect the poor sector.

“CA as a collective body has decided and I accept its decision. But I believe that the decision of the CA does not reflect the sentiments of the people,” she said.

Taguiwalo added she will continue to serve the people in another capacity.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella expressed sadness at the rejection of Taguiwalo, who he said had impacted the lives of many Filipinos and served the Duterte administration with passion, professionalism and integrity.

Abella said President Duterte is looking for a   replacement for Taguiwalo.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar described Taguiwalo as a “hardworking secretary.”  - JP Lopez, Jocelyn Montemayor and Reuters
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