Bandillo: We salute you, Judy Taguiwalo


“Sayang naman: Just what do politicians want in a DSWD Secretary to be acceptable to them? Judy Taguiwalo, personally for me, exudes the kind of a no-nonsense quietly effective and competent government official with impeccable integrity uncorrupted by the lures of perks and money for personal benefit, the kind of unassuming official that we the people pined for so long, a breath of fresh air from the grandstanding politicians and some government bureaucrats… Now this lady, even if she is branded as a communist, I think has her heart in the right places. Ah, they want a compliant and subservient secretary to do their political biddings as in the case of Gina! Whatever they say about her, sayang siya, nope we the people are the losers, not her! Sayang!”  

Thus posted in FB by my ‘kailian’, Dr. Cesar Mansibang, a CPA by profession and  a retired professor from Ateneo. ‘I could not agree more!”, I immediately commented. “Just cowardice, many in the CA wouldn’t even want to publicize their negative votes!” he quipped back.

Manong Cesar’s sentiment sums up the respect Taguiwalo earned as a public servant. It also mirrors the disappointment of the public on her  non-confirmation as DSWD secretary by the Commission on Appointments where, on record, 13 CA members voted to reject her appointment.  

Sterling record

Taguiwalo is no movie personality. Neither is she a popular politician. But in her very brief stint as DWSD secretary, she was able to capture the hearts of many – across social classes, sectors and persuasions. She set the bar of what a public servant  should be – serving the people with service, competence, integrity – all for the interest of the people with no thought of self.

She obtained a BS Social Work finishing cum laude from UP Diliman. She obtained her MA in Public Administration in 1992 from Carleton University in Canada and then finished her doctorate degree in Philippine Studies from UP Diliman. 

She worked as a faculty member in the College of Social Work and Community Development’s Department of Women and Development Studies in UP-Diliman.  She was the Founding National President of All UP Academic Employees’ Union and a founder of All-UP Workers’ Alliance. 

Taguiwalo served as Director of UP Center for Women’s Studies. She served as member of UP Board of Regents from 2009-2010 representing the faculty. She also served as Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of IBON Foundation where she now serves as the Chairperson. She was one of those nominated by the National Democratic Front to the Duterte Cabinet.

Why the rejection?

“I was not privy to the deliberations…What else do they want from me? I never stole money, in terms of service delivery, we tried our best to provide immediately… What I did was I stood by the decision of the Supreme Court that there should be no pork barrel,” Taguiwalo said hinting on the possible reasons of her non-confirmation.

Early on, Secretary Taguiwalo issued a memorandum in August 2016, reminding DSWD personnel that recommendation letters from lawmakers and politicians have no bearing in granting aid. This met criticism from members of the House of Representatives during hearing for the department’s 2017 budget. 

In the memo, she ordered that referral letters “from individuals, groups of individuals, or organizations, including public officials whether national or local executives, legislators, members of the judiciary, or constitutional commission” are “not integral” to identifying the beneficiaries of its Protective Services Program (PSP).

Taguiwalo is also vocal against the administration’s tax reform package. She is in favor of the income tax reform but not the excise tax on fuel and other products. She explained that “the poor do not benefit from lessening workers’ take home pay because they are engaged in informal work. It’s the inflationary effects of the excise tax that will directly hit them.”

Proud Leftist

You can give labels. At the end of the day, whether you are left or not, the bottom line would be competence, integrity and love for your country,” said in a DZMM interview after her rejection at the CA. “And on that basis alone, sa tingin ko I’m proud to be kaliwa (I think I’m proud to be left),” she proudly declared. 

Taguiwalo belonged to a generation of radicalized students and professionals  in the 1970s. She helped organize the militant group Malayang Kilusan ng Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA) in 1970. When ML was declared, she opted to go to the countryside. She immersed and integrated with the peasants, and dealt with, in a very concrete way,  feudalism, imperialism, and martial law fascism. 

She was among the more than 50,000 incarcerated in the military stockades in the first three years of Martial Law.  She was arrested in 1973 and subjected to severe physical and mental torture. She was stripped naked, made to sit on a block of ice, and given the “water cure” – a torture method where water is poured through nostrils until one feels as if one is drowning. She escaped in 1974 and went back to the underground movement. 

In 1984, four months pregnant, she was arrested again, charged under two secret presidential decrees (PD Nos 1834 and 1839) that made subversion, rebellion, sedition and other related crimes capital offenses, with penalties ranging from life imprisonment to death. She gave birth in prison. She was released from incarceration after the Edsa Uprising.

Indeed, Prof Dr. Judy Taguiwalo, as Senator Recto described in his outstanding endorsement speech, “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.”

We thank and salute you, Judy Taguiwalo! #


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