Maza resigns; last NDFP-nominated member leaves Duterte Cabinet

The last of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-nominated members to the Rodrigo Duterte Cabinet has tendered her irrevocable resignation today, August 20

National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Lead Convenor Liza Maza announced she is leaving the Duterte government after deeper reflection on the events of the past weeks, including the double murder charges she faced with three other former Makabayan bloc representatives like herself.

“I am announcing that I have tendered this morning my irrevocable resignation as Secretary and Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission,” Maza said in a pres conference.

She said that while the fabricated and baseless murder charges were eventually dismissed, the revival of these cases and the issuance of warrants of arrest under a seeming crackdown on activists like her took its toll on her work at the NAPC.

“I realized that similar attacks by the anti-reform, rightist, and militarist forces in our society will continue to undermine my leadership of this agency. As such, I simply can no longer work under these circumstances,” she said.

Along with Maza, former social work and development secretary Judy Taguiwalo and agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano were nominated to the Duterte Cabinet by the NDFP.

Taguiwalo and Mariano were no longer re-appointed by President Duterte after they were rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

Maza explained that Duterte’s total cancellation of its peace talks with the NDFP last August 14 was her biggest reason for resigning.

“The decision killed my remaining hopes that the peace talks would result to substantive social and economic reforms that would end widespred poverty in the country as well as the ongoing civil war,” she said.

She added that the cancellation of the talks signals that policies that are counter to reforms for the poor as well as militaristic mindset and attitude are primary to the government.

Maza said that her resignation is not a surrender of the pursuit of meaningful reforms that she has embarked on in her two years of leading the NAPC, which she said has always been her life’s work as an activist and legislator.

“[N]or am I succumbing to the reactionary forces who have long wanted me out of this post. Rather, it has become clear to me that this pursuit will be better served with me working outside of government,” she said.

Among Maza’s biggest achievements as NAPC lead convenor was the publication of the 100-page “Reforming Philippine Anti-Poverty Policy – Going Beyond, Moving Forward” roadmap that sought “meaningful debates on poverty eradication instead of mere poverty alleviation.”

Maza said during its launch in January that among the book’s proposals are the development of Philippine industries, review of international economic deals, regulation of foreign investments for development, state-directed financing for development, and more progressive taxation.

She said then she hoped that President Duterte would support their proposals.

Maza, in her statement today, said that poverty eradication may no longer be possible under the Duterte administration.

“I joined the Cabinet more than two years ago with high hopes of helping to facilitate meaningful socioeconomic and political reforms from within the government, when the President was initially engaged in the peace negotiations that can potentially bring these about,” she explained.

“His latest pronouncement, however, on finally terminating the talks brings me to the conclusion that these reforms may no longer be possible under the current administration,” she said, adding she believes “genuine change cannot happen when the old forces of fascism and corruption, and the defenders of elite and foreign interests, are consolidating their position in government.”

“I have found it best to resume fighting from among the masses for this genuine change, which, as ever, has been the only real way to make sure that it will happen,” Maza concluded. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)