Government News Analysis

Taguiwalo’s show trial

Yesterday, in one of the most disgraceful acts of government secrecy – in a country famed for that sort of rotten behaviour – 25 members of the Philippine Congress, sitting as the Commission on Appointments (CA), failed to confirm Judy Taguiwalo (photo) as head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Yesterday, in one of the most disgraceful acts of government secrecy – in a country famed for that sort of rotten behaviour – 25 members of the Philippine Congress, sitting as the Commission on Appointments (CA), failed to confirm Judy Taguiwalo (photo) as head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a single member of that unaccountable Star Chamber-like court who’ll admit to denying her the role. In fact, every interview that’s been aired so far would suggest she had tremendous support within the CA. Given what they’ve had to say, it’s hard to imagine how she was found to be “unfit” for the job. Now it seems, everyone who was party to this decision has washed their hands of it. Like Pontius Pilates, they want no part of it.

That, of course, is the sort of double-dealing we’ve come to expect from Philippine legislators when they’re put on he spot. That sham hearing, however – an object lesson in stealth and the machinations of murky politics – will leave a very bitter taste among the electorate for some time to come. And we can expect a backlash.

CA members know that; hence their glowing testimonials of Taguiwalo now that they’ve removed her. What’s evident is that their superb ability to speak out of both sides of their mouth is only matched by their supreme negligence in doing what they were supposed to do – find the best candidate for the position. And, judging from those glowing post-vote testimonials, they were in little doubt who that was.

The reasons for their decision will never be officially disclosed. In the words of CA chairman, Joel Almario, “We don’t have to be accountable to the public for our decision”. And it’s lucky for them they don’t, given the anger now brewing in the country.

This wasn’t an attempt to genuinely vet Taguiwalo on her competence to run the DSWD – she’s already more than proved that over the past year, dealing professionally and decisively with an array of natural disasters while proving to be one of the most committed welfare secretaries dedicated to address the problems of the country’s wretched poor.

So let’s call it what it was – a political witch hunt; a mock hearing which had been prejudicial from the start. Frankly, CA members could have made this same decision months ago. In fact in private they had. They’d already decided to reject Taguiwalo’s appointment – have no doubt about that. All they did yesterday was to go through the motions, as they put on their sickening two-hour display of examination and appraisal. The rubber stamp was already inked; they just needed to appear to be evaluating the candidate.

But do they really believe they fooled anyone with that farce of an enquiry? Seven senators so far have come forward to stand before the cameras and explain, hand on heart, how they backed Judy Taguiwalo. But after the sham they took part in no-one’s going to believe them anyway.

Vote counting of the behind-closed-doors, anonymous ballot was halted once 13 ‘No’ votes – denoting a majority – had been tabulated. But why should those votes be secret? Surely, legislators should have the confidence of their convictions and be prepared to state why they voted one way or another. Stand by their individual decisions. Isn’t that part of public accountability? Isn’t that precisely the sort of transparency they claim they want to see across the spectrum of politics?

The fact is, the CA decision is not a big mystery. One reason why members refused to confirm Taguiwalo’s appointment had absolutely nothing to do with her ability to do the job and everything to do with her Left-leaning political persuasion. And for these blinkered, one-dimensional-thinking legislators, they couldn’t get beyond that. It wouldn’t have mattered if she’d already solved the problems of poverty in the country, they still wouldn’t have given her the job.

The other reason was her principled stand against what amounts to kick-back payments for legislators. In August, she issued a memorandum which effectively halted the extraordinary practice by which members of Congress gain favoured projects from her agency.

Her circular stated that referral letters from public officials were no longer integral to the implementation of the agency’s Protective Services Program, and as such not binding on DSWD personnel. In short it gave her agency the sole authority to determine the beneficiaries of its own projects. Effectively, it cut-out any middle-man dealings by members of Congress. Commission of Disappointment

Now that, for any opportunistic member of the legislature, would be an even bigger incentive to turn down Taguiwalo’s appointment than any political bent she may have. Money, after all, as we’ve seen historically right across Philippine politics, focuses the minds of many legislators far more than any socio-economic considerations that would benefit the country.

Taguiwalo caught the flavour of this in her post-vote statement on the decision. Here’s what she said: “When you seriously commit yourself to fighting corruption in government and opposing patronage politics, expect that those who have no qualms about using government funds to further their own political and self-serving agendas to work against you”.

Of course, we’d never suggest for one minute that any one sitting on the CA would even remotely have their fingers in the pie – nothing could be further from our imagination. No, certainly not; these are all upstanding citizens wanting the very best for the country. Aren’t they? They, we’re sure, are all guided by wholly altruistic motives; personal gain would never surely be any part of their decision-making process.

At the same time, though, the CA members will have been lobbied for months by their fellows in the House of Representatives and the Senate to ensure she was not confirmed. That pressure would have taken its toll.

What those lobbyist want is business-as-usual, not some anti-corruption crusader in their midst making it difficult for them to make a few million pesos on the side.

So there we have it – another howling blunder by the supposed crème-de la-crème of the Philippines’ political establishment. Another massively lost opportunity by a politics-as-usual elite that either caves to pressure or puts its own petty interests and political predilections ahead of those of the country – not least its 26 million poor.

Now we await with interest to see who the CA ultimately will appoint to the position of DSWD secretary. And then, how well that person operates in the role. For if that person’s performance is lacklustre, or inferior to Taguiwalo’s, the 25 members of the Commission on Appointments will be held responsible. Any foul-up in the handling of a natural disaster will be laid at their door; any corruption that emerges from that department will virtually have been sanctioned by them.

The fact is they’ll need to make the best appointment they’ve ever made in their lives – Judy Taguiwalo will be an extremely hard act to follow. Some would argue an impossible act to follow. And by dismissing her, the CA membership has ensured it’ll be put under the greatest scrutiny by the public for any appointment it’s ratified so far.

124 Comments

  • Why install a COMMIE as dswd cheap?

    And instead of HUMBLY accepting her fate, the COMMIE even hit back at the ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES of the people

    So who is disgraceful now?

    • Labels like Commies are not useful in intelligent discussion needed here. I could use a counter-label but I don’t see the point in doing that. Personally, rather than most of the politicians that compose the CA, I will take Judy anytime, Commie or not

    • Why deny the fact that she is a COMMIE? she went to jail because of what her org was doing to the countryside

      As I said before, THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO SERVE THE PEOPLE but it looks like little minded COMMIES are not interested.

    • I just went over what I wrote and I did not find anything denying that she was ever a Commie. What I said was that labels like these are not useful in any intelligent discussion on her fitness for the DSWD portfolio anymore than the label rightist would automatically qualify anyone for the same post. You added in italics that there are other ways to serve the people. That was never an issue but you hastily added that, “little minded” COMMIES are not interested. So it’s one more label heaped upon another. Judy is little minded? She has more brains in her little finger than most CA members have inside their skull

    • They say its only morons and idiots who cannot go beyond labelling and name-calling. It clearly reflects how pea-brained they are and incapable of rational and intelligent discourse. How would you react if someone called you a dyed-in-wool-fascist?

    • Stop arguing with this idiot. Duterte troll and as stupid as it is possible to be.
      He is just getting what he wants, his little bit of fame.
      Honest hard working people know the truth.

    • Last time I checked Communism is no longer outlawed in much of the world, including the Philippines. Plus Duterte used his prerogative to appoint a commie and it is what it is.
      Why she was suddenly left hanging was a big question mark. But not anymore. It is because of pork, pork and pork. And Duterte once a commie sympathizer has curiously thrown her under the bus.

  • as I read these comments this phrase from Hamlet immediately came to mind Hoist (hoisted) on ones own petard (to be harmed or disadvantaged by an action of one’s own which was meant to harm someone else.

  • MY TAKE ! C.A. A CONSPIRACY TO DISTROY THIS COUNTRY BY OPPOSING GOVT.PLAN TO PUT THIS COUNTRY IN RIGHT DIRECTION IN LEGAL WAY BY MEANS OF THIS COMMISSION .HINDRANCE TO PEOPLES PROGRESS !

  • Kasi si Judy ay progresibo at makabayan
    Hindi siya korap at magnanakaw
    Hindi siya humihimod sa tumbong ng mga pulitiko
    Siya ay sinsero at may malasakit sa mahihirap
    Kaya iyan ang ultimong dahilan ng mga burokrata kapitalista sa gobyerno
    Parang mahirap ng umasa pa na magaganap ang tunay na pagbabago sa bansang ito.

    • Thank you Oem. Congress is very much a part of government; it’s government’s legislative branch. Consequently, when it passes a law, that law is a government law; it’s not a congressional law. Furthermore, its members are elected by the people to represent them in government. Indeed, as we’ve just witnessed, they decide who sits in the Cabinet of the Executive. The president may nominate whom he wants but it’s members of Congress who decide who he’ll get. Not only are they part of government; for most of the time they’re the most powerful part of it. However, in the article, “government secrecy” is immediately explained by “25 members of the Philippine Congress …”

    • Still Congress should undertand that this government is “for the people, by the people and of the people.” Domestically we live in an archipelago delimited by an abyss of ignorance. The more that our people become educated the more that the abyss of ignorance penetrates even deeper and deeper. As ignorance joined forces with the muscle of political power it becomes a vicious enemy of the state. I find meaning in the words of P. J. O’Rourke when he said, “If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”
      To say the least, in the phase of increasing development in modern knowledge, there is danger for ignorance to be the principal threat to mankind. This is not only about ignorance per se, but even more about the stupidity of those who possesses overflowing loads of secular knowledge in their brains.

  • What a shame, you cabal of evil legislatongs! Almario baby, you are so shallow and insensitive to say that you, legislatongs, “are not accountable to the public for our decision”. Say, almario baby, to whom are you accountable then? You are into public servanthood and being so, you are accountable to the people! Did you ever come across this sterling mandate to all public servants- “Public service is a public trust.” What planet are you as a public servant, almario baby?

  • SANA MAISIPAN NG NPA NA ILIGPIT ANG WALANG KWENTANG 25 NA YAN. CGE NA NOW NA. SAMAHAN NYO NLNG DN NG IILANG POLITICO PA NA PKAPALAN NLNG NG MUKHA ANG GINAGAWA.

    • Ka bad tsktsk ano na ba to. Nsakop na pala tayo ng kadiliman ngayon lng ntin unti unting namamalayan. Tsk wawa nmn presidente hirap mka galaw ikinarton na siya ng mga demonyo. Merob sila politico, demonstrador, kontrabido kontrabida sa mtataas na position sa gobyerno, NGO, media, sindikato, kapulisan, simbahan… anak ng.. parang taong bayan nlng yata ang hndi kasali sa partehan sa mga kalokohan ng mga gungong letse

    • Wow! Ganon tingin mo pre?? Ang presidente pa ang demonyo?? Sa tingin mo para sa kaninong kapakanan ba ang ginagawa nya ngayon?? Pang sarili ba nya o para sa kpakanan ng mga mahal mo sa buhay included?

      Kung hndi dahil sa kanya pagkapanalo hndi ntin malalaman na inaanay na pala ng mga potanginang sindikato politico simbahan rebelde at meski yung nsa pnka mababang position sa mga LGU kanya2 ng diskarte sa pandurugas. Mga nangingikil, corrupt. Lahat sila busy sa kanya2ng mga palaro. Ma clerk mn o director maski pa secretary sa gabinete, malaking porsyento ng mambabatas may mga lagay and or sila mismo ang sindikato. Mga katiwalian pa lamang yan sa gobyerno na naging SOP nlng na nagdadala ng pahirap sa mga taong bayan. Ngayon nmn isali mo sa pag kwenta ang problema sa LAGANAP NA NA KALAKARAN SA DROGA. sino mga tatamaan nyan mula nuon hanggang sa mga apo mo. Matakot ka sa mga druglord kayang nilang bayaran ang lahat magawa lng nila gusto nila. Ngayon sino2 mga binili nila? Mga senador mo, congressman, huwes, pulis… ANAK NG POTANG INA MO! NAISIP MO BA LAHAT YAN BOY??? YAN ANG MGA INAAYOS NG DEMONYONG PRESIDENTE KO! Sa klase ng mga TARANTADONG GARAPALANG POLITICO AT DRUGLORDS NA NAG MGA KALA MO MGA HARI NA SA TINGIN MO MAY SILBI PA ANG HUSTISYA SA KANILA?? MKAKATALAB PA BA ANG ANO MANG BATAS SA KANILA? TANGA KA KUNG TINGIN MO MPAKULONG MO SILA. PATAYIN NA YAN SILA LAHAT NG HINDI NA PAMARISAN! IKAW GUSTO MO SUMALI SA LISTAHAN?? TARANTADONG KA HAYOP KA LETSE KANG DAKO! SAGOT POTRAGIS KA

    • Tangub city??? Sementado ba daan nyo dyan?? Ano ng nagawa ng congressman mo sa bayan nyo? May asenso ba? Anak ng pucha kayo lng ginagago nun. Kayo nmn for sure bilib din kayo. PalibahasA… ewan ko sayo boy. Nkaka highblood ka trantado. Mag aral ka nga ng hndi ka tumanda ng mang2. Mahina pa utak mo umintindi at mka distinguish between what is true and what is not. Bago ka magbigay ng opinion boy kilalanin mo muna

  • For CA chairman, Joel Almario to say, “We don’t have to be accountable to the public for our decision” is an obvious manifestation and glaring show of ignorance on his political responsibility in a democratic republicwhere elected officials are representatives of the people—the majority—and as such all their acts is an accountability to the people. No matter their decision, Hon. Almario should not have said that.

    • Neil Foster, we have been through the several several stages of government which Plato described in his “The Republic” that are intolerable, yet unavoidable. Plato’s predictions of a society with an enormous socioeconomic gap, where the poor remain poor and the rich become richer off the blood and sweat of others are coming true. During those many years the poor people longed for freedom and liberty. They used it as their battle cry against their oppressors—the rich. Indeed, as Plato predicted blood were spilled and many died. During this time of violent transition in our country, the people will rally behind one man, or a few men, whom they believe to be their savior. The people will lift this champion to great heights and anoint him with sacred responsibilities to bring liberty and peace to the land. Neil Foster, you should understand that “democracy” is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. President Duterte was elected by the majority of the population and that alone proved that democracy is in existence. We will yet have to see when the smoke clears and the old regime gone if truly our democracy will be supplanted or lost. God forbid.

    • I don’t agree with your assessment that he got elected by majority of our voting demographics, he won the election,no question about that but not by majority votes…remember there are five of them,who run for such position!

    • Sani Inas, if you do not understand the rule of simple majority—the principle that the greater number should exercise greater power—you are no better than those unlearned who may have been trapped in the hulk of ignorance, sort of restricted and restrained because of limited opportunities for education, but who tried their best to break their cocoon of ignorance and emerge like a beautiful butterfly representing wisdom and meekness in lowly attire compared to arrogance, stupidity and ignorance in luxurious apparel.

  • AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO SIT DOWN AND SWALLOW THEIR CRAP? AND THEN ALLOW THEM TO APPOINT ANOTHER? DOES THIS MEAN THAT THEY ACTUALLY CHOOSE WHO WILL BE THE SUBSTITUTE? Please VOLATILIAN clarify this for me–thanks.

  • Mgappoint n nm ng isa tas i reject n nmn ng ca, kelan pa aabante ang gobyerno natin kng ganyang mga klase ang nsa ca? Kahirap kya mghanap ng mga trusted n mga tao?

  • She was appointed by the pres and then rejected by congress through CA . , . and still its the mayors fault ? ! . . . oohhh ok , keep the dogs barking ! ! ! ha. ha. ha.

  • ANG DAPAT PARA MAG CHAIR SA DSWD:

    1. YUNG NAKAKILALA AT MAY RESPETO SA DIYOS AT SA GOBYERNO.

    2. YUNG MAY “CONCERN” SA MAMAYAN AT ANG FOCUS NASA TRABAHO PARA SA TAO AT PARA SA BANSA.

    3. WALA SA ISIP AT PUSO AT SA BUHAY ANG CORRUPTION.

    BY THE WAY,
    MAY SABI NA FORMER REBEL C SEC. JUDY!

    “DOON BA SA SENADO AT KONGRESO WALA?”

    KUMPLETO ANG NANDOON– WE NAMED IT!
    MERON GRAFT, MERON CORRUPT, MARAMI DOON PARA LANG SA SARILI AT PARTIDO!
    PERA PERA LANG!

    KUKUNTI LANG ANG MAY PUSO PARA SA BANSA!

  • It’s Taguiwalo’s actuations of joining political rallies of radical groups and her continued affiliation with the communists that weighed her down…she is part of government, she has to align her actions and pronouncements with the present government policies and programs which the CA sees she does not.

    • They say its only morons and idiots who cannot go beyond labelling and name-calling. It clearly reflects how pea-brained they are and incapable of rational and intelligent discourse. How would you react if someone called you a dyed-in-wool-fascist?

    • Maybe if you listened to or tead the speech of Sen. Recto during the confirmation hearing you will better understand why many people were so dismayed and disheartened by the CA’s rejection if Judy Taguiwalo. And in her year of service in her post what actions and pronouncements related to her job did not sit well with the CA? Only one — not to allow the representathieves to dip their dirty hands into DSWD funds meant for the people who need them most — the poorest of the poor.

    • you put your foot where your mouth is. ….name calling is your trademark, do you read what you put here, moron, idiots? Records, documents and media accounts with photos clearly showed her communist affiliation, until now..my point is that the CA has some reservations about her double -bladed persona which may influence her decision-making. As I said, she continues to join anti government ralies by the radical left even though she is part of government. Civil servants are prohibited by law to engage in political or partisan political exercise. Why make a general, sweeping and unfounded statement that representatives are only vexed by Taguiwalo’s refusal to allow representatives have a say where DSWD funds should go? You sound adverse about name calling, yet you branded all representatives having dirty hands.
      Any team needs team players who have roles to play following one singular play pattern in every turn and observing the same principles and objectives.

    • She was asked by sen lacson whether she did approve or not of national I’d system it’s just a yes or no . . .She cannot answer this question honestly . . . I know right then that she will not be confirm ! ! ! . . .

  • TO ALL CA MEMBERS WHO REJECTED TAGUIWALO MAY YOU ALL ROT IN HELL. YOU’RE ALL SO SHAMEFUL & COWARDS THAT YOU DID’NT EVEN HAD THE COURAGE TO DISCLOSED HOW YOU VOTED.

  • This is sad, very sad. When something like this happens to a good person and most of the members of the CA can’t even admit that they voted against her. Nasa likod po ninyo ang sambayanan Madam Secretary. God bless you po.

  • … i agree with you, Volatilian… its indeed a big disappointment that interim Sec Taguiwalo was not confirmed.
    … here is a dedicated lady who tried her best to change the status quo but her voice wasn’t heard… the legislators only thought of their personal needs and not what the Filipinos want.
    … we insist, if ever our President Mayor would appoint a new DSWD Secretary, that the next candidate will carry Taguiwalo’s torch and work as dilligently as she did for the people… WE DESERVE NOTHING LESS.

  • GUSTO kc nila paupuin dyan tulad nilang corrupt na hinahayaan lng mabulok mga donations mula ibang bansa kaysa ipamigay sa mga biktima ng calamidad..GUSTO KC NILA NA ung ILAGAY ANG MGA PANGALAN NG POLITIKO SA MGA RELIEF GOODS ..eh ayaw ni taguiwalo kaya Reject sya !!

  • Siguro,one of the best solution why not abolished C .A.yung mga dedicated at magaling able honest maglingkod sa bansa yan di pumasa.Paano ba at kailan nagsimula tong C.A. mulat sapul nagkaroon tayo ng congresso andyan na yan.C.A.balakid sa pag unlad ng bansa.Siguro kaya meron nito para lang sa kanilang pabor at kapakanan.

  • You can blame Cory Aquino for this one because it was her hand picked framers of the 1987 Constitution which created the CA and gave authority to the legislature to interfere in what is essentially an executive prerogative. Nangopya lang sa America un pangit pa ang kinopya

  • Nabawasan ang nagsisiphon ng government money to the commies. Nabawasan ng mga lumuko sa administrasyon ni Digong. Pero may ilan pang naiwan. Sana mareject din sila.
    Napatili tuloy sa galit si Joma.

  • CA sbould be accountable for every decision they make but unfortunately most of them have personal hidden agenda . I believed they dont really care about the welfare of the common tao. Sa lahat po ng naging DSWD Sec si Madam Taguiwalo lang ang nakita kong may busilak ang puso sa common tao

  • Dati nmn walng problema kahit may CA. Wala kasing secret noon, walang hidden agenda na kunwari ilalagay sa pwesto sya pero un ay kunwari lng. Papogi lng ba. Tapos pag hindi naapprove e hindi sya ang masisisi… tapos saka nya ilalagay ung totoong gusto nya. O di ba wagi!

  • The secret budget is within the box of dswd. An honest manager is keeping it for the welfare of less previlage citizens, not for the privilege of the unknown.

  • It^s so glaring example that the house of congress in general & the C A in particular are there to serve their personal interest rather than the welfare of general public. The case of Ms Lopez, the rejection of DSWD secretary just to mention a few shows it^s not really qualification nor dedication that matters, its still politics.

  • Transparency is the subject… Deliberations should be made public so people would know the reasons why that CA member rejected or approved her confirmation

  • MOST OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CA ARE NOT AFTER THE GOOD ADMINISTRATORS OF THE GOVT. THEY CONCUR APPOINTMENTS OF OFFICIALS ONLY IF THEY BENEFIT FROM IT. THE REJECTION OF MADAM TAGUIWALO IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE WHERE REJECTION WAS NOT BASE ON PERFORMANCE. SHAME ON YOU MEMBERS OF CA!!!!! UR ALL BS!!!!!

  • I thought cabinet secretaries are confirmed by the CA because of their competence, honesty, performance, experience, educational qualification and knows by heart the department that he/she is tasked to lead? What other qualifications are they looking at? Are they looking for someone who has a monopoly of virtue or a miracle worker?

  • I thought cabinet secretaries are confirmed by the CA because of their competence, honesty, performance, experience, educational qualification and knows by heart the department that he/she is tasked to lead? What other qualifications are they looking at? Are they looking for someone who has a monopoly of virtue or a miracle worker?

  • […] But the big test will come along with the inevitability of nature’s cycles. And if the DSWD then proves lacking in its task, who will members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) – those 24 individuals sitting as a bench drawn equally from each chamber of Congress who last week renounced Judy Taguiwalo (photo, left) as head of the agency; who will they point their fingers at in the event of failure?  Will it be the person at the end of the finger they point with, or will it be those at the end of the three fingers pointing back at them? Taguiwalo’s show trial. […]