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Kumusta na si Lordei Hina?

Kumusta na si Lordei Hina?

Pitong taon na ang nakakalipas, hindi pa rin natatamasa ni Lordei Hina at ng kanyang pamilya ang katarungan mula sa malagim na krimeng naranasan niya sa loob ng kampus ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.

Si Lordei Hina ay isang estudyante ng Unbersidad ng Pilipinas, isang graduating student sa ilalim ng kursong BS Community Development. Naging Secretary-General si Lordei ng Center for Nationalist Studies (CNS) at aktibong miyembro ng Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP).

Pebrero 1, 2012 habang naghihintay si Lordei sa loob ng opisina ng University Student Council sa Vinzons Hall para sa isang miting ay bigla siyang nilooban ng dalawang lalaking nagpanggap na mga tattoo artist na lalahok sa gaganapin na UP Fair.

Kuwento ng kanyang mga kaibigan, lumaban si Lordei upang iligtas ang sarili. Sa kasamaang palad, nasaksak siya ng ilang beses ng ice pick sa ulo. Ninakaw ng mga salarin ang ilang mga laptop at cellphone na nasa opisina at tumabko. Natagpuang duguan si Lordei ng kanyang kaibigan at agad siyang dinala sa ospital.

Nahuli ang isa sa dalawang suspek at sinampahan ng kasong frustrated homicide. Kalaunan ay nagpiyansa rin at pansamantalang nakalaya. Ang isa naman ay nakapagtago. Pitong taon na ang nakakalipas, hindi parin natatapos ang paglilitis sa Regional Trial Court, Branch 91, Quezon City.

Malaki na ang pinagbago ng kalusugan ni Lordei. Noong una ay hindi niya naigagalaw ang kanyang kanang kamay, nahihirapang tumayo, pakainin ang sarili at hirap makaalala. Kuwento ng kanyang inang si Connie Hina, sa kasalukuyan, kaya na umano ni Lordei na kumain magisa. Minsan ay naglalakad-lakad pa nga raw sa labas ng bahay kasama ang kanyang kapatid. Malaki na rin ang pinagbago ng kanyang memorya.

Kahanga-hanga ang tapang na ipinakita Nanay Connie habang hinaharap ang masalimuot at masakit na pangyayari. “Huwag mawalan ng pag-asa…Bumangon agad at hindi iyong tuluyang malugmok…” Ito ang matapang na salita ng isang ina na handang ipagtanggol ang kanyang anak. Bagamat positibo ang pananaw ni Nanay Connie sa lagay ni Lordei, mararamdaman sa kanyang boses ang galit sa mga kriminal na nagdulot ng pagpapahirap sa kanyang anak at pamilya at lalo’t higit sa mabagal na sistema ng hustisya.

Nitong Setyembre 7, 2018 ay nakansela ang pagdinig ng kaso ni Lordei dahil hindi dumalo ang abugado ng mga akusado mula sa Public Attorney’s Office. Maghihintay muli ang pamliya hanggang sa Nobyembre 7, 2018 para sa pagpapatuloy ng pagdinig.

Umaasa sina Nanay Connie na sa taong ito ay magkakaroon na ng linaw ang kaso ni Lordei sa Korte at makamit na ang hustisyang matagal ng inaasam. (Video ni Maricon Montajes/Kodao)

REBYU: Beastmode, A Social Experiment

Ni Judy Taguiwalo

Kagabi pinanood namin ni Nana (Prof. Jina Umali) ang documentary na may pamagat na “Beastmode, A Social Experiment”.

Si Baron Geisler ang bida. ‘Yan lang muna ang alam ko tungkol sa pelikula. Pero alam ko rin na may usapan sa nakaraan na magdo-donate si Baron para sa piyansa ni Maricon Montajes at ang dalawang kasama niya na tinaguriang Taysan 3, si Ronelo Baes at Romiel Canete.

Nakapagpyansa na si Maricon pero nakakulong pa rin si Ronel at Romiel sa Batangas Provincial Jail dahil kulang pa ang pampiyansa.

Mahigit walong taon nang nakakulong ang dalawa (June 3, 2010 sila nahuli). Nakailang beses din akong nakadalaw sa kanila at alam ko ang sikip at init na nararanasan ng mga bilanggong lalaki sa dami ng mga nakakulong doon. Kaya malaking hatak sa akin na panoorin ang pelikula ang posibleng ambag ng mga prodyuser sa pampyansa ng dalawang kasamahan ni Maricon.

Niyaya ko ang anak ko para manood, pero ayaw niya. Hindi niya nakakalimutan ang ginawang pambabastos ni Baron Geisler kay Ping Medina.

Kung ang official poster lang ang batayan, pelikula ito ni Baron Geisler at tungkol sa pakikipag-away sa isa pang aktor na di kasing-kilala niya, si Kiko Matos. Malaki ang papel ni Baron sa pelikulang ito at mahusay ang kanyang pagganap bilang in character, ang barumbadong Baron at bilang si Baron na paminsan-minsan ay nagpapaalaala sa atin na bahagi ng script ang labanan at murahan.

Pero hindi pangunahing tungkol kay Baron ang Beastmode. Tinungtungan ng pelikula ang reputasyon ni Baron bilang “bad boy” para maitago ang katotohanang set-up at pinag-kasunduan ang away ng dalawa . ‘Yun kasi ang pakay ng pelikula, “social experiment”. Sa pamamagitan ng kunyaring awayan na pinalaganap at lumaganap sa social media, ido-dokumento ang karahasan at ang epekto nito sa mga tao.

Ipinakikita ng salitan ang karahasan sa unang dalawang taon ni Duterte at ang karahasan sa pakunyaring away ni Baron at Kiko. Matitindi ang clips ng actual na karahasan –ang mga bangkay ng mga sinasabing nanlaban na mga adik at ang pighati ng kanilang mga kamag-anak.

Tinunton din ng dokumentaryo ang pangakong kapayapaan sa talumpati sa unang SONA ni Digong at ang galit at banta niya nung bigla siyang pumunta sa SONA ng Mamamayan noong 2017 kung saan sinalubong siya ng malalakas na sigaw na “No to Martial Law” at “Resume Peace Talks”. Kinunan ang mga mukha ng mga Lumad, mga magsasaka, mga maralitang tagalungsod, mga manggagawa at iba pang raliyista sa SONA 2017 at ang kanilang kahingian para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, regularisasyon ng mga kontraktwal, pabahay, pagpapalaya sa mga bilanggong pulitikal at kapayapaan!

Ang orihinal na plano ay magkaroon ng ikalawang laban si Baron at Kiko (na ang unang staged na away ay sa Tomato Kick [isang restoran sa Quezon City] habang may benefit para kay Maricon, Ronel at Rommiel). At gagawin ito sa harapan ng mural para tigilan ang pagpatay sa mga Lumad na nasa isang pader sa UP College of Fine Arts .

Sa sobrang tagumpay ng kunyaring away ng dalawang aktor, hinayjack ang proyekto ng Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC) na nag-organisa ng commercial na laban ng dalawa. Ang pag-capture ng dokumentaryo ng mga reaksyon ng audience ng laban na ito ang isa sa pinaka-markadong bahagi ng pelikula. Mga may-kaya ang nanood sa laban dahil may bayad at malamang ay mahal. Hiyawan, halakhakan at palakpakan ang salubong sa suntukan at bugbugan nina Baron at Kiko. Dalawang rounds lang ang laban at nang natapos ito humiyaw pa ng ikatlong round. Parang kulang pa ang duguang mukha at mga pasa ng magkalaban para matugunan ang uhaw nila sa karahasan! Mabuti’t hindi pumayag ang dalawa.

Ano ang kongklusyon ng social experiment na ito? Ayon sa direktor, malinaw na kayang manipulahin ang persepsyon ng mga tao tungkol sa karahasan. Nagawa ito ng produksyon na limitado ang rekurso pero nagamit ang social media at ang bias kaugnay sa isang karakter para gawing kunyaring totoo ang nangyaring karahasan. Diin ng direktor, lalong nasa posisyon ang estado para manipulahin ang persepsyon ng mamamayan kung sino ang pinagmumulan ng karahasan dahil sa laki ng rekurso nito.

May punto ang obserbasyon ng pagmamanipula ng mamamayan. Higit pa rito, aktwal na naghahasik ng karahasan ang estado at binibigyang lehitimasyon ito dahil siya ang may hawak ng opisyal na mga makinarya ng karahasan at panunupil. Gayundin, ang malaganap na kontrol ng estado sa impormasyon at ang bata-batalyong army ng trolls na kanilang hawak ay dagdag na mga paraan sa pagtatakip sa papel nito bilang marahas na instrumento ng mga naghaharing uri.

Ano ang aking husga sa pelikula? Mahusay. Matapang. May paninindigan. Mabuti kung mas marami pang makakapanood nito. #

Judy Taguiwalo’s speech after CA rejection

Former DSWD Judy Taguiwalo’s speech before supporters who stayed all day Wednesday outside the Senate to express support and call for her confirmation.

The Commission on Appointment, however, rejected Taguiwalo.

(FB live video by Charlotte Robles Job Despuez / Featured image by Kilab Multimedia)

‘Judy’s ideology is to serve the people’–Recto

Senator Ralph Recto delivered this speech in anticipation of the confirmation of Prof. Judy Taguiwalo as Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary at the Commission on Appointments hearing Wednesday.

Recto said he was for Taguiwalo’s confirmation, but was defeated in a secret balloting by majority of his fellow CA members.

Read Recto’s full speech he read after the CA has announced it has endorsed the rejection on the Senate floor.

——

Mr Chairman, my dear colleagues:

I have been told that the nominee is a fan of my grandfather, and of my wife. That she can recite passages from Don Claro’s writings. And hugot lines from the movies of Vi.

So on that score alone, she gets my vote.

But if my grandfather were alive today, he, Vi and the nominee, would make a mutual admiration club.

Don Claro would only have the deepest esteem for someone who did not only agree with his causes, but spent a lifetime fighting for it.

And Vi would find in her, as she does, a real life character who looms larger than Sister Stella L, and who has more guts and grit than all the strong women she had played on the silver screen.

Mr Chairman:

The first pages of the nominee’s CV describe an intellectual at home in the academia.

Retired professor of UP. Head of its Center for Women Studies. Director of Research and Extension for Development Office. Faculty Regent.

In a school where merit is rewarded, she would not have been able to assume these posts without the academic degrees that validate a first-rate mind:

She has a PhD from UP, a Masters from a Canadian university, and a Social Work degree from the same state university where she graduated cum laude in 1970.

She could have been magna cum laude, Mr Chairman, if she did not let her real-life education outside of UP interfere with her studies.

Indeed, her CV catalogues, in fine print, the research papers, articles, books she had written.

But what is not there are her other engagements in her storied life which I believe makes her qualifications more sterling – and prove without doubt her fitness to perform the duties of the office she holds.

She is also an alumnae of 3 Martial Law prisons, went underground, and joined the resistance – only because legal pathways for change were blocked, and peaceful avenues to protest were closed.

To those who would see this as impediment to a Cabinet post, here’s my rebuttal: Political imprisonment is no bar to public office and neither is the taking up of arms when conditions warrant.

On the contrary – these are experiences we should look for in scouting for talent because they are the toughest “stress tests” one can endure.

I don’t have to remind you that in our pantheon of heroes, those who were jailed for their beliefs occupy an honored place. Warriors, especially women, are revered, from Gabriela Silang to Tandang Sora.

I think, Mr President, that it is her work during the “unsalaried phase” of her checkered career which is her biggest qualification in holding the DSWD portfolio.

It immersed her into the grinding poverty that continues to slave our people. It allowed her to closely see how the denial of basic social services drives people, first, to despair, and then, defiance.

If the ideal DSWD secretary is one who possesses competence, compassion and commitment, then it can be said that UP gave her the first, her activism gave her the second, and her underground years gave her the third.

We can never ask for a package as complete as her. She had been serving DWSD’s clientele long before Digong thought of running for mayor.

So if we would like to know her views about poverty, we can leaf through the forest of newsprint that contains her writings.

But if we would like to know if she really cares about the poor, then her stints in factories, in farms and in forests are enough to dispel any doubt.

Mr Chairman:

The nominee should not be dismissed as one of the token Leftists in the Cabinet. She was not put there as a memento to prove Digong’s Big Tent approach in forming a government.

Rather, I believe that she holds the post by virtue of her ability, and not by her affiliation.

She is not there to represent one color in Digong’s rainbow Cabinet. She is there to serve all the colors in the tapestry of our democracy.

She represents all of us, all our dreams, all our aspirations for our nation, our people, and our children. She personifies that elusive political ideal that persons of different persuasions can come together for the common good.

If she is an ideologue, then the ideology she subscribes to is the same one we believe in, and that ideology is to serve the people.

Mr Chairman:

I am seconding her confirmation because she brings a fresh perspective in the DSWD – and that is to treat not poverty’s symptoms but its roots, for the poor need more than relief, but a release from the social shackles that prevent them from bettering their lives.

It is, therefore, my pleasure to endorse the confirmation of the appointment of Doctor, Professor Judy M. Taguiwalo, or Ka Judy, as Secretary of Social Welfare and Development.

——–

(Featured image by Kilab Multimedia)

 

Activists and Reds blame Duterte for Taguiwalo’s rejection

The Commission on Appointments (CA) vote rejecting the appointment of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Judy Taguiwalo immediately earned condemnation from progressive groups, which blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for allowing so-called vested interests to win yet again.

Minutes after the CA rejection was read at the Senate, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said vested interest won over good governance, pro-people polices and genuine service.

“This one is on Duterte as it is on the CA…The President could have asked his allies in Congress to confirm Judy yet he again chose to ‘bend the knee’ to pork barrel lawmakers, neoliberal economic managers and the militarists in his cabinet,” Reyes said.

“The rejection exposes the utter bankruptcy of the current ruling system and the reactionary character of the Duterte regime. He chose business-as-usual, reactionary politics over genuine change,” Reyes said in his Facebook post.

In a secret vote, at least 13 CA members comprising majority of the commission voted against Taguiwalo’s confirmation.

Pork barrel in the DSWD

Taguiwalo’s troubles with both houses of Congress began when she issued her Memorandum Circular 9 on August 6, 2016 clarifying that DSWD assistance to the poor shall no longer require “guarantee letters” from representatives and senators.

Lawmakers grilled Taguiwalo during the two 2017 DSWD budget hearings of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives last year, accusing her of trying to prevent them from helping the poor in their respective districts and sectors through DSWD services.

Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin claimed that congressmen were the first people that their constituents seek help from and that MC9 implied their guarantee letters were in violation of the Supreme Court ruling against pork barrel.

Negros Oriental Representative Arnulfo Teves challenged Taguiwalo whether it was the DSWD or the lawmakers who know the poor’s plight better, while House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas threatened to drastically reduce DSWD’s proposed budget.

“We are not asking money from you. You are asking money from Congress. No budget can be spent on your programs without the (Congress) granting it,” Fariñas told Taguiwalo.

During her confirmation hearings, Taguiwalo was also repeatedly questioned about her past as a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and joining the New People’s Army to fight the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

Taguiwalo said she will always be proud of her decision to go underground during Marcos’ martial rule.

Duterte’s militarist swing

But National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said CA’s rejection of Taguiwalo is actually part of Duterte’s increasing attack against the Left.

Expressing dismay over the negative vote, Sison said patriotic and progressive forces can expect more ultra-reactionary actions from the Duterte government.

Taguiwalo, along with Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano and National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Masa are NDFP nominees to the Duterte Cabinet.

“The rejection of the appointment of Judy Taguiwalo is one more sign that the Duterte regime is becoming more and more reactionary and servile to anti-national and anti-democratic interests,” Sison told Kodao in an online interview.

Sison said the development is in line with the increasingly militaristic track being implemented by Duterte, something both legal progressives and the underground revolutionary groups must prepare to fight.

“The revolutionary forces and people must deal with the fact that Duterte has junked the peace negotiations and is carrying out a single-minded policy of war, death and destruction. They must fight resolutely and fiercely against a brutal and fascist Marcos-type regime that scandalously operates like a Mafia syndicate of corrupt bureaucrats, drug lords and gangsters,” Sison warned.

Duterte’s former professor said attacks against progressives are in line with the all-out war policy which the President has carried out since the beginning of his administration under the counter-insurgency policies Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan.

“All patriotic and progressive forces have to develop a broad united front against the puppet and reactionary US-Duterte regime,” Sison urged. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CA rejects Taguiwalo, bucks popular support for ‘hard-working secretary’

The Commission on Appointments (CA) recommended not to confirm Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Judy Taguiwalo in a hearing Wednesday.

Bucking popular nationwide support for Taguiwalo, at least 13 CA members constituting the commission’s majority voted against the secretary’s confirmation.

The CA resolution read by Rep. Joel Almario did not give a reason for their negative vote.

Sen. Ralph Recto, however, praised Taguiwalo’s year-long leadership of the DSWD saying she should not be dismissed as a “token Leftist” in the Rodrigo Duterte Cabinet.

As a nominee of the underground National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Taguiwalo (NDFP) was hounded at the CA hearings by questions on her past as a guerrilla fighting the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

Sen. Loren Legarda also expressed gratitude to Taguiwalo, saying she had been a “hard-working secretary.”

Duterte gave Taguiwalo six ad interim appointments before the CA rejection.

Fellow NDFP nominee to the Duterte Cabinet, Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano is also expected to face rough waters in his next confirmation hearing.

National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Lisa Maza, another NDFP nominee, does not require a CA confirmation to stay in office.

Earlier, hundreds of Taguiwalo supporters held a rally in front of the Senate gates.

Social media also lit up with calls for Taguiwalo’s confirmation. # (R. Villanueva)

CA postpones Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing anew

Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing with the Commission on Appointments (CA) at the Senate this afternoon has been postponed according to her Facebook social media account.

Speaking to dozens of disappointed supporters who trooped to Pasay City, Taguiwalo said she was informed by the CA that the hearing is postponed because Health secretary Paulyn Ubials hearing is not yet finished.

“This is the third time we came here. The first time was postponed. Then we finally had a hearing last week. Today should have been our third. But as of 12 noon, we were informed of the cancellation,” Taguiwalo explained.

Taguiwalo told her supporters that while she would continue to render service even as a private citizen, she said her confirmation is important as the DSWD has resources meant for the poor.

“We really want the government’s resources to go to those who need them most,” she said.

She admitted that her CA confirmation is an uphill battle but she perseveres because of the widespread support she is getting from various marginalized sectors.

Taguiwalo’s 10 months in office have been marked with positive feedbacks on DSWD’s prompt response to calamities such as strong typhoons and earthquakes that hit various parts of the country.

She also received public support for the reforms she instituted at the DSWD such as Memorandum Order 9 that reminded DSWD employees that so-called guarantee letters from congressmen is not a requisite in the identification of beneficiaries.

MC9 also ordered the entire agency to act on requests from intended beneficiaries even without a letter from lawmakers.

Taguiwalo said the long wait she is being made to suffer is a form of torture.

“Pass or fail, I can deal with that.  But I don’t think it is acceptable that the hearings keep getting postponed,” she said.

She nonetheless assured her supporters she will continue doing her work.

Meanwhile, Taguiwalo’s former colleagues at the University of the Philippines again urged the CA to immediately confirm Taguiwalo, saying she embodies the change President Rodrigo Duterte promised the people.

“If there is a government agency that shows genuine change from the corrupt governments of the past, it is the DSWD with Judy Taguiwalo as secretary,” Congress of Teachers and Educations for Nationalism and Democracy’s Sarah Raymund said.

Taguiwalo said she will wait for notification for the date of her next confirmation hearing. # (Report and photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)

STREETWISE: High stakes confirmation hearing

Streetwise
by Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
On Wednesday 3 progressive cabinet members — Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez, Social Welfare Secrtary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano — are up for confirmation by the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).
They have been twice bypassed by the CA and subsequently twice reappointed in the interim by President Rodrigo Duterte. But because the current CA has approved a rule that a cabinet member may only be bypassed three times after which the CA will have to reject or confirm the concerned official, it appears that Wednesday will be the final showdown.
The backstory to this is very interesting if only because it is so unusual.  Newly elected President Duterte surprised everyone when, even before he was sworn to office, he offered the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) four Cabinet positions.
Pres. Duterte said the four departments he offered to the CPP – Labor, Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare, and Environment and Natural Resources – dealt with the “most oppressed” and that the Left was known to be “the most vigilant” when it comes to pressing national issues. He also related his offer to restarting peace talks with the revolutionary movement under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front of the Philipiines (NDFP).
In response, NDFP Chief Political Consultant and CPP Founding Chairperson Jose Ma. Sison welcomed the offer but said the CPP could not accept any position not until the peace negotiations had reached the point of a comprehensive peace settlement. In the meantime, Sison said the NDFP could nominate people who are patriotic, progressive, competent, honest, and diligent but not necessarily communists.
Upon the NDFP’s recommendation, Pres. Duterte appointed University of the Philippines Professor and former political prisoner Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Long-time peasant leader and former Anakpawis Party List representative Rafael Mariano became secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The labor portfolio eventually went to former Justice Secretary Sylvestre Bello III, concurrent head of the government peace panel negotiating with the NDFP, while that of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) went to Gina Lopez, a known environmentalist and scion of a wealthy business clan.
The appointment of Leftists and social activists, including former Gabriela Party List prepresentative Liza Maza to the National Anti-poverty Commission, lent credence to President Duterte’s avowal that he too was a “leftist” and a “socialist” even as this became fodder for accusations of his political enemies that the Duterte administration had betrayed the country to the communists.
Policy differences surfaced when the burial of the so-called remains of the Dictator Marcos was allowed by President Duterte at the Libingan ng mga Bayani setting off a torrent of mass protests wherein victims of martial rule and anti-dictatorship activists from the Left figured prominently.  Taguiwalo, Mariano and Maza stood their ground in opposition to the Marcos burial but asserted that this was not sufficient basis for them to resign their posts.
While snide remarks surfaced in social media intimating that the three had sold their souls to the devil, these accusations of cooptation did not gain much traction.  The three have proven to be one of the most hardworking, competent, and upright in the Duterte Cabinet.  They have navigated the perilous course of holding top government positions and being subjected  to myriad pressures and enticements while remaining true to their Leftist principles and continuing to serve their “most oppressed” constituents.
The lines began to be drawn for Sec. Taguiwalo during the budget hearings last year.  Many congresspersons, not least of which were those in the leadership of the House of Representatives, objected to and resented the attempts of the DSWD to ensure that the department’s beneficiaries are those truly in need and not merely “lucky” recipients of patronage politics. A compromise was eventually hammered out: congresspersons’ recommendations would be taken into account and given weight by the DSWD even as the set of qualifications specified by the agency would prevail.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The “honorable” congresspersons wanted ironclad assurances from Sec. Taguiwalo that certain funds they had earmarked for the DSWD would only be spent in their districts in accord with their wishes.  In other words the old pork barrel system was alive and well albeit disguised as an informal arrangement between the head of agency and the “honorable” congresspersons. When Taguiwalo refused to play along, her confirmation in the CA was placed in jeopardy.
As for DAR Secretary Mariano, one of his orders that raised the hackles of his fellow Cabinet members particularly the economic managers, was the DAR proposal for a two-year moratorium on land use conversion. Mariano wanted to put the breaks on rampant conversion of farmlands for residential, industrial, commercial or mixed-use purposes. Not only has land use conversion been a tried-and-tested way to go around land reform, it has even been used to cover up landgrabbing itself.  But apart from frustrating the ends of social justice as envisioned by a series of failed land reform programs, this proposed moratorium is in line with ensuring the country’s food security what with the rapidly shrinking agricultural land devoted to food production.
Needless to say, the big landowners in the country especially the owners of sprawling haciendas and corporate farms are literally up in arms over Secretary Mariano’s unflinching support for the right of the tillers of the land – tenants and farm workers – to own their own plots of land.  Recent attempts of DAR to install agrarian reform beneficiaries in land awarded but forcibly taken from them have met with armed resistance from private security guards and hired goons. In some instances, the police have averred that they cannot help DAR enforce its orders because they are outnumbered and outfirepowered by private security forces.
DENR Secretary Lopez’ decision last February to close 23 mines and suspend five others for breaching environmental standards together with the cancellation of 75 contracts for mining projects located in watersheds constituted a declaration of war against large-scale corporate mining in the country.  For this the country’s mining firms banded together to not only oppose her confirmation, but to file corruption charges against her before the Ombudsman.
Too bad Lopez’ anti-mining stance is popular among a public reminded of the horrendous toll on the environment and affected communities from mining accidents and the over-all destructive effects of large-scale mining operations. Moreover her boss, President Duterte, has continued to back her.
For its part, the NDFP recently stated that it views “in very positive terms the presence of (the three) in the Duterte cabinet”.  Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP Panel chair said, “Ka Paeng will play an important role in implementing a program of free land distribution for poor peasants. Ka Judy will likewise play an important role in implementing expanded social services for the people. Gina Lopez meanwhile has expressed willingness to work with the revolutionary forces in protecting the environment against destructive mining operations. They will no doubt be helpful in implementing a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) that may be agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP.”
The stakes are truly high in the confirmation hearing of the three officials on Wednesday. Will the people’s clamor for meaningful reforms be dealt another serious blow by reactionary interests through their front men in the Commission on Appointments? #
Published in Business World
1 May 2017

Reinvigorated DSWD wants Judy’s confirmation

SHE arrived at her new office last July 1 riding shotgun in a beat up and borrowed white pick-up truck, alighting in a hurry and forgetting to take her shoulder bag with her.  She ran after the vehicle, laughing at herself, perhaps belatedly realizing it was the day she becomes a cabinet secretary and hundreds of colleagues were watching her.  Her predecessor stood at the lobby, waiting with her trademark clip-on hair highlight, probably wondering what kind of a department chief her successor would make, displaying what could only be described as an unorthodox start to her new job.

Ten months into her new career, social work and development secretary Judy Taguiwalo still cringes at the perks and privileges showered her as she moves about the rarefied corridors of power.  “Hindi ko na pwedeng bitbitin ang malaking bag ko at hindi ko na mapindot ang elevator buttons because people would insist they do it for me.  Naging cabinet secretary lang, parang person with disability na bigla,” she says.

“Look at this space,” gesturing at her expansive office.  “It is wasteful. So I asked one of my assistant secretaries to move in.  Malungkot ang mag-isa rito at nagbabasa ng mga report ng disaster at kahirapan ng maraming mamamayan,” she said.

Behind a door near her desk is her office’s private pantry.  On its floor were baskets and bags of donations and gifts from new admirers and supporters.  She disappeared in it and emerged with two small bottles of sardines and tells her staff, “Ito ang pagsaluhan sa lunch.”  She explained, “Tira pa iyan noong Pasko. Daming nagbigay.  May five star hotel vouchers, Metro Manila Film Festival tickets, pagkain.  Ipinamigay ko ‘yung mga pagkain sa community at sa staff at kaibigan yung tickets at vouchers.”

She is not so different out on the field, her staff said.  She walks muddy paths to remote communities, gently shooing away those bringing her umbrellas to shield her from the relentless sun.  She sits at poor people’s kitchens to talk to them and listen to their plaints first hand.  At a forum with persons with disabilities, she stays behind so she could talk to every participant who wanted a chat.  She is sometimes impatient with staff who take time bringing her papers she asked, but she is unwearied when she talks to common folk.

What most people know about the DSWD now is its prompt response to disasters and pleas for assistance. Relief goods packed in cartons arrive immediately after typhoons and earthquakes, with corned beef, noodles, sardines, soap and rice fit for human consumption.  This efficiency can still be sabotaged by unscrupulous local politicians, but no one is now saying rotten items are still being distributed.   Moreover, DSWD’s prompt response to the disaster brought about by Supertyphoon Lawin did not require the country begging for foreign aid and assistance as had been trademarked in the past.

In a blink of an eye, the agency that symbolized criminal neglect and inefficiency under past governments is resurrected in the people’s esteem, dearest of all agencies under Rodrigo Duterte’s reign.

Even her department colleagues are reinvigorated.  “Ang Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines ay never naging pro-management. Ngayon pa lang kami nananawagan ng confirmation ng aming secretary,” its president Manuel Baclagon said yesterday at a forum for Taguiwalo’s confirmation, along with Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano and Environment and Natural Resources secretary Regina Paz Lopez.  “Sa 20 years ko sa serbisyo, dating puro ka-plastikan, puro showcase lang ang programs ng departamento.  Pero kay Sec. Judy, ang correct attitude sa paglilingkod sa sambayanan , tunay na malasakit, pantay na pagtrato, tapat na serbisyo, nangyayari ‘yan. Kitang-kita naman ‘yan sa Luisita, sa Lumad, sa Pandi,” Baclagon said.

MC9 and pork barrel

Ten months is a short time for one who really wants to institute reforms in a government line agency.  But it had been enough time for at least one controversy.

Scarcely four weeks as secretary, Taguiwalo issued Memorandum Circular 9 last August 6. MC9 reminded DSWD employees that so-called guarantee letters from congressmen is not a requisite in the identification of beneficiaries.  It also ordered the entire agency to act on requests from intended beneficiaries even without a letter from lawmakers.

For such a bold move at trying to stop the practice of making the DSWD the congressmen’s pork barrel, the agency was threatened with budget cuts to make it helpless; for such audacity, the circular’s signatory may not be confirmed by the Commission on Appointment at the Senate today.

But Taguiwalo herself is not too fazed over what her supporters are so worried about: her confirmation by the same kind of people she challenged with a simple memorandum.  At yesterday’s forum, she said what is important to her is the affirmation from fellow social workers, public school teachers, single parents, persons with disabilities and activist comrades.

Many want Taguiwalo’s service as social welfare and development secretary extended with her confirmation.  What she has shown in 10 months can only be described as one of the Duterte government’s genuinely pro-people achievements. # (Raymund Villanueva)

 

NDFP endorses Mariano, Taguiwalo and Lopez confirmation

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) endorsed the confirmation of three Rodrigo Duterte cabinet secretaries a few days before their final Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing by Congress.

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they look forward to continue working with the three officials in the framework of peace negotiations and achieving meaningful reforms to benefit the Filipino people.

“The (NDFP) Negotiating Panel views in very positive terms the presence of DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary Gina Lopez in the Duterte cabinet,” Agcaoili said.

“Their inclusion bodes well for the entire peace process as they would be in a position to help push much-needed socio-economic reforms,” he added.

Mariano and Taguiwalo were NDFP nominees to the Duterte cabinet.

Mariano, Taguiwalo and Lopez have all been previously bypassed by the CA and will get their final chance at confirmation at the Senate on May 3, Wednesday.

The NDFP said Mariano and Taguiwalo will play an important role in implementing a program of free land distribution for poor peasants and in implementing expanded social services for the people, respectively.

Lopez on the other hand has earned the underground group’s admiration for her strong stance against destructive mining.

She also recently expressed willingness to work with the New People’s Army in protecting the environment, generating eco-friendly livelihood in mining affected areas and attending the formal peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

“They will no doubt be helpful in implementing a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) that may be agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP,” Agcaoili said of the three.

The NDFP likewise warned the officials’ removal from office “by reactionary interests” will run counter to the people’s long-standing desire for reforms in government.

Meanwhile, activist groups launched a social media campaign since yesterday calling for a rally at the Senate on May 3 in support of the three secretaries.

“There is an urgent need to show broad support for the progressives in the Duterte cabinet and thwart plans by the CA to confirm only those who wish to uphold “business as usual” politics. It is not every day that we have cabinet officials who truly work for the interests of the people and defy well-entrenched elite interests,” the online appeal said.

“Let us amplify the call to confirm Judy, Ka Paeng and Gina. Join us also in the mobilization and gallery trooping on May 3, 9am at the Senate,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)