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Ex-DSWD Sec hits out at Duterte but says peace talks must continue

20 November 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

She may have spoken out against the extrajudicial killings of thousands of mostly poor people in the Philippines, but Prof. Judy Taguiwalo says peace talks between the left and the government must continue.

“Hindi naman either/or yan, you try all avenues,” Taguiwalo said at a forum held at the HK Boys and Girls Club auditorium in Wanchai on Nov. 6.

She said the desire to push ahead with the stalled peace talks has not stopped other groups within the leftist factions, like Karapatan, from condeming the EJKs.

Prof. Judy Taguiwalo

“Papasok ka sa lahat ng arena kasi...whether you like it or not, President (Rodrigo) Duterte was duly elected by the Filipino people.”

Taguiwalo also expressed no regrets about losing the post of social welfare secretary after her appointment by President Duterte was bypassed by Congress recently, saying there are other ways of serving the people.

“Walang forever sa posisyon pero may forever sa paglilingkod sa bayan,” she said.

She recalled accepting the appointment because “I had high hopes that for the first time, we had an inclusive president,” she said.

This belief was said to have been bolstered by the widespread support she saw being given to Duterte, even by Filipinos who are abroad.

In Davao, she said “kahit ganoon ang bibig niya (Duterte), he is well loved by the people. She cited his many pro-women initiatives like providing a breastfeeding center at the airport and keeping the women’s correctional institute looking homey and not like a prison. “Even yung mga sisters (nuns), love sya.”

For Taguiwalo, the unraveling happened when she clashed head-on with other members of the Cabinet, like when she opposed the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng Mga Bayani” and the more recent tax reform package that Duterte wants implemented.

In her talk, Taguiwalo focused mainly on “Neoliberal Dutertenomcis” which she said is anti-people and resulted not in changes for the better, but for worse.

Prof. Judy Taguiwalo joins her audience for a photo.
She cited statistics from Ibon Foundation which show that despite a continuing economic growth (now hovering at around 6.8%), production has slowed down by as much as 48.9%, while unemployment has surged. Ibon’s estimate put the number of Filipinos without jobs at 4.3 million.

The worsening economy is said to have led to about 66million Filipinos becoming poor, meaning they live on P125 a day or less.

Migration is said to have allowed many Filipinos to “keep body and soul together” but Taguiwalo said it’s not the answer to the widening poverty in the country.

She said there is no difference between the economic policies of Duterte and his predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III, as they are both elitists.

The former social welfare chief noted Duterte’s “build, build, build” campaign which she said is “definitely not for the poor.” She showed graphs indicating the rush to build infrastructure as being concentrated in Metro Manila and surrounding regions, and not in areas where the poor are concentrated, like in the Mindanao.

The second part of her lecture dealt with EJKs which she said reflects a culture of impunity in the country.

“Just imagine, 32 killings in one night, and the President does not see anything wrong with it.”  She said drug addiction is a health issue and not a policy problem.

She also hit out at Duterte’s recent moves to stamp out dissent, like harassing the Commission on Human Rights, threatening the Ombudsman, and sanctioning moves to impeach the Chuef Justice.

“The lesson learned (from all these) is wala talaga tayong aasaahan kundi tayong mga tao din,” she said.

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