(UPDATE – 11:12 p.m.) Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, newly rejected by the Commission on Appointments, said on Thursday that she has “no regrets” about having joined the Duterte Cabinet, even as she admitted being saddened by the bloody anti-drug campaign waged by the President.
As a social worker, Taguiwalo said she has always “placed a premium on people’s lives”. To this end, she said she was happy and proud to have given DSWD her all. But on her way out of the department, Taguiwalo – a long-time activist whose appointment was supported and cheered by leftist organizations and politicians – admitted to “sadness” over killings attributed to an enabled, reckless police force, and having concern over what that suggests of due process, rule of law, and human rights under the Duterte administration.
Asked if she had regrets joining the government and granting the Duterte administration good faith despite rising death tolls and national, as well as global, concern over human rights and impunity, Taguiwalo said: “Kung i-contextualize mo…na ang aking portfolio ay sa Department of Social Welfare and Development, wala akong regrets, because I think I had the opportunity to make sure that the service, the resources of this department went to the people. And I tried my best na ang corruption ay ma-arrest. So in that sense, I think naging significant naman ‘yung efforts natin dito – na ang departamento ay maging lingkod-masa talaga.
(Taking into context that my portfolio was at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, I have no regrets because I think I had the opportunity to make sure the service, the resources of this department, went to the people. And I tried my best to arrest corruption. So in that sense, I think our efforts here for DSWD to truly become a department for the masses were significant).”
Taguiwalo then continued: “Pero sa context ng iba pang mga nangyari, eh di siyempre, nalulungkot tayo. Ako nalungkot na ganyan ka-pervasive ‘yung drug problem natin. At ngayon nalulungkot ka rin sa dami ng namamatay. Hindi naman natin gustong may namamatay, whether it is through drug wars o kaya sa armed conflict sa Mindanao. Kasi bilang social worker, we place a premium sa buhay ng mga tao, at sa usapin ng due process para sa tingin natin nakalabag ng batas. Malinaw naman ‘yan na panindigan ng propesyon namin.
(But in the context of the other things that happened, of course we’re sad. I’m sad that our drug problem is that pervasive. And now you are sad as well with the number of people killed. We don’t want anyone to die, whether it is through drug wars or armed conflict in Mindanao. As social workers, we place a premium on people’s lives and on due process for those whom we think have violated the law. It is clear that our profession stands for that).”
In an interview with InterAksyon a day after the Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment with finality, Taguiwalo said she was doing well. She was already packing up her things at the DSWD, even as she said she was still awaiting Malacañang’s instructions and “official communication”.
But if she were to list the qualities she would want her successor to have, Taguiwalo would want him or her to provide swift service to the people, to treat all communities fairly, and to shun corruption.
Asked if DSWD had any programs for the families of suspected drug pushers and addicts who got killed, especially those from poor communities, Taguiwalo said that while the agency had not created anything specifically for them, affected families could seek help from the DSWD in the form of burial assistance and educational support for affected children. They could also ask for hospitalization assistance if the suspects sustained injuries.
Taguiwalo added that the DSWD was crafting a rehabilitation program for drug dependents called “Yakap Bayan”.
As whether she would lend her voice to the call against extrajudicial killings, should these continue, she replied, “‘Yung isyu talaga ng human rights, ‘yung isyu ng EJK ay mga issues na hindi dapat hayaan. Pero nakabatay din siya dapat sa mainam na pagsusuri, kung paano ito nangyayari, at ano ang magagawa talaga natin. Ganun din naman ang sinabi, eh. Kung kayang mag-file ng mga cases, mag-file ng mga cases.
(The issue of human rights, the issue of EJKs are issues that we must not ignore. But these must also be based on proper study and due process – how they happened, and what we can do about them. That’s what was said before. If cases can be filed, then let them be filed.)”
Taguiwalo meanwhile said the DSWD would continue to help indigenous people like the lumad in Mindanao who had returned to their communities after being displaced by violence.
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