March 15, 2017
It would be a big loss and a huge embarrassment for the Duterte government if DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and DAR secretary Rafael Mariano are not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. The two progressive cabinet secretaries are among the most hardworking officials of the administration who are directly serving the poor.
Sec. Judy is having problems with her confirmation because of her refusal to play ball with lawmakers intent on continuing the practice of pork barrel patronage. Some lawmakers are asserting their entitlement and control over certain DSWD funds. Lawmakers are insisting that they have a say in the implementation of certain programs and projects vis-a-vis their districts and constituents. This is already in direct contravention of a Supreme Court ruling against intervention by members of Congress once the national budget is passed.This informal pork barrel practice does not appear in the national budget nor any document, and simply requires an agreement between congress and the executive. This has been going on since the last Aquino administration, despite the SC ruling.
We support Sec. Judy’s principled stand against congressional pork. She must be allowed to perform her functions minus the dictates or intervention of narrow political interests. Programs and projects must be implemented based on actual need, not political patronage.
Ka Paeng’s confirmation on the other hand is being blocked because of his pro-farmer stand. The landlord-dominated congress is opposed to genuine land reform and the 2-year moratorium on land conversion. Ka Paeng has been at the forefront of pushing for land reform despite the limits of the law and the fierce opposition of the big landowners such as those in Hacienda Luisita and Lapanday Farms.
The opposition of the ruling elite to the confirmation of Sec. Judy and Ka Paeng as well as DENR Secretary Gina Lopez once again highlights the rottenness of the system of bureaucrat capitalism. Congressional posts are being used to uphold and defend ruling class interests against forces pushing for reforms in social services, land reform and the environment. It would be a monumental irony if a government that claims to be led by a “leftist” would end up booting out the leftists from the administration.
Congress must confirm the appointments of Judy and Ka Paeng. President Duterte meanwhile must stand with the Cabinet secretaries from the Left if he is serious in bringing about reforms in his government. ###