DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 August) – Former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo denied accusations she channeled funds from the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to the New People’s Army for the rebel group’s purchase of arms and ammunition.
“For the record and for the President’s own awareness, not a single peso of the 4Ps program passed through my hands. The program funds are directly coursed through the Landbank and its conduits who then make direct payout to the Pantawid beneficiaries. These transactions are recorded and COA (Commission on Audit) regularly audits this program,” Taguiwalo said on her Facebook account Tuesday.
Taguiwalo, whose appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments on Aug. 17, was reacting to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement Tuesday that the NPA used money coming from the poverty alleviation program to acquire more arms.
Duterte issued the statement during the oath-taking of new presidential appointees in Malacanang.
He said he would not mind such money “reaching the hands of the NPA especially if that money bought something to eat” and even admitted sending food and medicines to the communist rebels in the hinterlands during his time as mayor of Davao City.
Taguiwalo said the “the insinuations are being made to pass off as justifications for the rejection of her appointment by the President’s allies in the House of Representatives and the Commission on Appointments.”
“Had the president’s allies questioned me regarding this issue during the CA hearings — or even during the congressional deliberations on the 2018 budget — I would have given them answers that are easily verifiable. When I first arrived in the DSWD, among my first declarations and actions were to say that the 4Ps program would NOT be expanding. This means that the 4.4 million beneficiary-households of the program will not increase,” she said.
She added the list was already made before she became DSWD secretary and if there had been additional members, they were the families of slain soldiers who had children aged 0 to 18, in “compliance with the President’s order.”
Duterte said the allegation was already circulating in Congress and maintained it did not come from him.
“Hindi galing sa akin iyong sabi na ginamit iyong pera ni Taguiwalo. We did not, dumating iyon sa kamay ng mga congressman, sa mga (The accusations did not come from me that Taguiwalo was using that money for that purpose. It reached the congressmen), well of course from military maybe. But hindi galing sa akin iyon (but it did not come from me), otherwise I would not have reappointed and reappointed her,” he said.
He alleged that soldiers recovered some envelopes that appeared to have come from 4Ps under Taguiwalo’s watch.
“Ako sinabi ko naman to (I said it already), let me be very clear. To the communists, makinig kayo: Wala akong pakialam kung iyong pera, nakatanggap NPA na mahirap o law-abiding citizen sa barangay na mahirap. Puro iyon nangailangan ng kain (you listen: I don’t care if a poor NPA received the cash or law-abiding citizen in their barangays. They all need food),” he said.
“Kaya Secretary Taguiwalo, you’re barking up the wrong tree – that is what I told the military,” he said.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said in a statement Tuesday that the president’s statement “reeks of military line, incriminating Ma’am Judy, that we already could not sense the mayor who was considerate of the people’s need and working for peace.”
“This exposes that the militarists in the cabinet are approving of patronage politics, the unity of fascism and bureaucrat capitalism, at the cost of inclusive and progressive governance,” Casilao said.
He said Taguiwalo could have earned the ire of House and CA members, as she strongly opposed their purported control over social services fund so they can use it for patronage politics.
“We urge the president to be meticulous of his statements, especially against Ma’am Judy who served his government with utmost sincerity and capability, for the benefit of the people,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)