Lopez’s rejection and disrespect for Taguiwalo

 

Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez

I am talking of course about the confirmation hearing by the Commission on Appointments (CA) that rejected with finality the appointment of Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources DENR) and the deferment of the appointment of Ms. Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Both women are strong-willed and independent minded and advocate of causes worthy of respect and admiration for their aspirations and beliefs intertwine as it involves the environment, where if mismanaged and abused, it is the poor and the socially marginalized who are greatly affected.

It is no wonder therefore that an advocate of green environment has been chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the DENR (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sec-gina-lopez-and-the-mining-industry/) and the champion of the oppressed was to lead the DSWD (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/social-welfare-secretary-judy-taguiwalo/).

There is no doubt in my mind that Lopez will be remembered as the best DENR secretary the country never had because of politics and politicians being propped up by filthy rich businessmen who have large stakes in the mining industry.

“If you want to be confirmed, don’t go against big business,” an angry Lopez shouted during a long press conference after the bicameral hearing rejected her appointment.

“It’s wrong when lawmakers don’t stand up for the rights of every Filipino, but rather big business. It’s really very wrong.”

But if there is one good thing that Lopez has done in her short and controversial tenure as DENR secretary, it is to awaken the mining industries in the country that it behooves upon them to replant and to treat their waste water so that environmental disasters affecting the poor and the marginalized can be prevented from occurring.

Ms. Judy Taguiwalo

The case of Taguiwalo was something else.

The CA deferred the confirmation of Taguiwalo because of her strong links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the confirming body just probably wanted more time to find out where she really stands now – her loyalty and ideology – considering her position as a Cabinet member.

But what really soured and turned off many during Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing was the blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity, if not idiotic remarks disguised as a joke, by the Senate clown himself, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/more-than-a-senator-sotto-is-a-clown/), who, while grilling her, tried to sound funny, saying: “Just on the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I were looking at the personal info about you. You have two children – daughters or sons?”

Lighter side?

Sotto, with Drilon smiling at his side, considers this question “on a lighter side” when he knew already what went on with Taguiwalo’s life raising her daughters as a single parent?

If it was not meddling enough in Taguiwalo’s private life, Sotto proceeded further to disrespect and humiliate the former by saying that “Single mothers are “na-ano lang” (just got knocked up).”

What is being a single parent got to do with being confirmed, for chrissake!

If it was meant to be a joke, as Sotto later claimed it was, then it was a sick joke that could only come from one with a sick mind who does not deserve to be in the Senate at all.

Unlike Lopez and Taguiwalo, Sotto’s advocacy is simply to be a clown.

 

Gina Lopez over Leni Robredo anytime

DENR Sec. Gina Lopez (l) and Vice Pres. Leni Robredo

I had been critical of Vice President Leni Robredo not only because she has fallen so short of my expectations (yes, Virginia, I voted for her), but more so because she allows herself and her position to be used as the voice of the opposition.

Recent events about her which drew criticism from many only show how vulnerable she is to being manipulated by her cohorts in the Liberal Party (LP) who have vested interests of their own.

You can read more of my opinion about Robredo at these links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/robredos-satisfaction-rating-suffers/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/obredo-un-message-slanders-the-philippines/

On the other hand, I have nothing but great respect for Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez who remains unfazed despite being bypassed by the Commission on Appointments and continues to make a bold and uncompromising stand, saying, she is not keen on finding a “middle ground” with mining companies if it involves “damaging watersheds and agriculture.”

I have also written about Lopez which you can read at these links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/denr-secretary-gina-lopez/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sec-gina-lopez-and-the-mining-industry/

There is simply no comparison between Gina and Leni in terms of ideas, commitment, determination, leadership and resolve.

But for more stark difference between the Gina and Leni, allow me to share with you this article which I find so interesting and revealing that after reading it one can fairly say that the Duterte and Gina ilk is what is needed to run this country and not the Leni Robredos and her yellow-colored ilk.

Be a Gina in a nation full of Lenis

By SASS ROGANDO SASOT on April 20, 2017

THE Opposition, as well as the Filipino intellectuals and naïve millennials sympathetic to them, often adjudge Duterte supporters as a nihilistic cult. Hopefully, they won’t be stuck in that thought. May they have the foresight to put this passionate mass into great use.

They should begin by foregoing their criticisms of Duterte that are mere remnants and permutations of their propaganda against him during the 2016 elections. That’s why Duterte supporters surge like a wild wave against them whenever they do that. The incessant fault-finding feels like election season all over again. They are tired of that mudfest. They want to move forward.

Also, perish the thought of grabbing power from Duterte in any way, whether via coup d’état, nth version of Edsa, or ICC-enabled regime change. You will not succeed with a victory you could enjoy. You are only wasting Duterte, a rare concinnity of courage, compassion, savvy, and iron will.

Be an Opposition with a compelling vision rather than a loudmouth spewing political platitudes. In other words: Be a Gina Lopez in a nation full of Leni Robredo. Though Lopez isn’t part of the Opposition, she’s worthy of emulation by those who want to translate their love for our country into action. Her passion comes with a vision and a plan.

Remember the story of how she got the job as environment secretary? Armed with a thoughtfully crafted presentation, Lopez flew to Davao City, queued up to meet Duterte in the wee hours, and when she finally met him, she persuaded him to stem the tide of ecological destruction wrought by irresponsible mining. Sure, she can be too zealous for her own good and to the detriment of her cause; but it’s also the same verve prompting us to pay serious attention to how we manage our nation’s ecological assets. The same stance which impelled Duterte to give her the power to realize her vision and to back her up even if it would mean losing billions from the mining industry.

Meanwhile, Robredo kept swamping our country with stale political slogans, like the “war on poverty.” Every war requires a strategy to achieve a purpose worthy of great resources mobilized in its service. And of equal importance is an able general that leads his soldiers to victory. Robredo has no riveting strategy, just a litany of emotional appeals punctuated by a smile. She’s definitely not an adept general that could lead her troops to win any war at all.

When she resigned as housing czarina in December 2016, Robredo demonstrated that she’s the kind of general who abandons the battlefield whenever her ego gets slighted by a setback. If the housing needs of Filipinos were a great concern to her, she should have mustered the diva in her, continued working, and proved to Filipinos that she was indispensable in doing the job. While Lopez persists even in the face of great resistance, Robredo gave up and became damsel in distress. She made herself disposable.

Robredo is what has become of the Opposition — unnecessary. And that’s dangerous.

No democracy thrives without an Opposition. Besides being the government’s check-and-balance, the Opposition provides the creative tension necessary to generate innovative policies. In that sense, the Opposition is an indispensable other that stimulate the administration to actualize its highest potential. But the Opposition to the Duterte administration has become mostly an obstructive and destructive force. Instead of being a source of creative tension, they have become a national nuisance one can live without.

That shouldn’t be the case. The Opposition should cease being a Leni Robredo, and start being a Gina Lopez. Time to have a gripping vision with a plan. Present it with ardor. The passionate mass of Duterte supporters might not accept what you say, but gaining acceptance isn’t the goal. The goal is to provide the creative tension this administration needs to keep itself on track in its quest to give every Filipino a more comfortable life.

 

De Lima maligned at CA confirmation hearing

 

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada confronting DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima during CA confirmation hearing.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima

Getting a confirmation for your position as a cabinet secretary from the powerful bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) can either be a walk-in-the park or pain (flame?) in the ass.

It really depends on whether or not the members of the committee are picking your brains for your knowledge and competence in the job objectively or they are just subjectively prying into your private life because you have stepped on their toes in the course of your job.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima got the latter treatment from the spiteful Sen. Jinggoy Estrada who everybody knows has an ax to grind against de Lima.

Although Estrada has been assuring de Lima long before that he won’t block her appointment, the fact is that the crafty senator has been able to hurl allegations/accusations maligning de Lima’s reputation, both private and public.

From his accusation based on a dead man’s tale that de Lima received P1-million monthly allowance during her stint as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) under the Arroyo administration, to imputing that it was de Lima who facilitated the escape of the Reyes brothers from Palawan accused in the murder of broadcaster-environmentalist Gerry Ortega, and even down to de Lima’s alleged illicit relationship – all smacks of despicable behavior frothing in revenge displayed by an actor who disguises well his true feelings.

It boiled down to pretense and masquerading with smiles and smirks, because at the end it was between him and the Justice Secretary when Estrada also asked de Lima why she had to ask immigration officials about details of his travels abroad when there was no legal impediment for him to travel, this after the filing of the pork barrel scam complaint and charged for plunder before the Ombudsman.

De Lima clarified that she was just confirming his whereabouts with the Bureau of Immigration but did not stop him from leaving.

Estrada told de Lima that he has no intention to evade the charges against him which he described as “fabricated.” This elicited a quick response from de Lima saying that it was not “fabricated.”

“I don’t have any plans of leaving the country,” Estrada said.

It was Estrada trying to rescue himself and clawing back at de Lima’s confirmation hearing. It made his day that he was able to portray de Lima, like him, a crook.

Can’t we have a congressional ruling where a congressman or a senator will inhibit himself/herself from attending a CA confirmation hearing if he/she has had clashes with the subject to be confirmed just so objectivity shall be observed during the proceedings?

Robredo replacement

With the passing  of Jesse Robredo and the stupendous and meritorious tributes given the man, the leader, and the public servant, not to mention the enormous outpouring of sympathy, love and regret for his untimely demise, he has now left a void at the Department if Interior and Local Government (DILG) that is hard to fill up.

It has even become harder to fit in the shoes he has left behind for we now know more of him than we could have ever imagined him to be. In death he has become larger than life.

Speculations were rife as early as last year that Senator Panfilo Lacson was going to replace Robredo, especially that the latter had an uphill battle getting the nod of the members of the Commission on Appointments (CA).

The same CA members are now mulling the idea of whether or not a posthumous confirmation will be given to Robredo. That is what makes their belated action so poignant – as if it would make a difference. Now they know that the man they bypassed three times was more deserving of the position than they are in theirs.

But now that the nation knows who the real Robredo was, people now doubt whether Lacson could fit in Robredo’s mould which gave meaning, purpose and direction to the government agencies under the DILG.

For one, Lacson has skeletons in his closet, and for another, his forte is more in leading the police force for security and safety, which is part and parcel of the local governance, but not the direct and overall exercise of general supervision over local governments, which includes the establishment of a system of coordination and cooperation among the citizenry, local executives and the Department, to ensure effective and efficient delivery of basic services to the public.

Even Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a local government chief executive many times over, and a successful one at that, too, was humble enough to decline the DILG position if offered, saying, he was not qualified for it. Perhaps, he was more referring to his personality, which is exactly the opposite that of Robredo.

Other names such as those of Saranggani Governor Miguel Dominguez, former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, and even that of Vice President Jejomar Binay have been floated as candidates, but the question is: Do all of them carry the brand of public service and vision that Robredo has been known for, and if so, do they have the demeanor of Robredo?

Robredo seems to have been endowed with these magical personal and political qualities that make for a good DILG Secretary.

It looks like we have to leave it up to President Benigno Aquino to have the final say. He seems to possess an acute sense of judgment as to who to choose to be a member of his cabinet that, like him, would seek to follow the “tuwid na daan” or straight road or the uncorrupted road.

He named the late Robredo for the DILG position and never wavered in his support for him no matter the indignity suffered by the appointee in the hands of the CA members.

In the same note that PNoy took the risk in appointing Maria Lourdes Sereno, a young, female associate member of the Supreme Court as its Chief Justice (CJ), to bring the institution back to its respectable level after the damage done on its integrity and independence by the impeachment of former CJ Renato Corona, we can only hope that this time PNoy will have again a clear and unquestionable discernment as to  who to replace Robredo with.

Nation lost Robredo but gained Sereno

Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will be 24th Supreme Court Chief Justice and the first female CJ.

In the midst of a grieving nation over the death of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) appointed Supreme Court (SC) Justice Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal Sereno as Chief Justice (CJ), thus, making her the first woman to occupy that exalted position in the nation’s history.

It is not only history making, but we would like to think that in the same manner that President Aquino appointed and re-appointed Robredo for the position of Interior Secretary because he believed in the man’s competence, integrity, commitment, vision and selfless dedication to service for the people, that PNoy also used the same underlying concept in selecting Sereno as CJ.

PNoy never doubted and wavered in his support for Robredo no matter the times the latter was ignominiously by-passed by the Commission on Appointments (CA). He got vindicated only upon Robredo’s death – and so was Robredo.

Although Robredo and Sereno belong to different branches of government, I have faith in the gut-feel of PNoy that his choice of Sereno to head the nation’s judiciary will be of great service to this nation, especially that Sereno, at 52 years old, will serve as the 24th CJ for 18 more years or until 2030, when she retires.

Acknowledging the importance of the judicial branch in this country, which reputation has lately has been marred by serious imputations of impartiality, of flip-flopping, of dishonesty, of being corrupt, etc., PNoy must have found in Sereno the right person to bring back the respect of the people for the SC with her unquestioned morality and intellectual prowess.

The damage done by former CJ Renato Corona on the credibility of the SC, which led to his impeachment by Congress with a resounding 20-3 vote last May 29, has put the SC in bad light, that Sereno’s job is not only to undertake much needed reforms within, but also to establish the interdependence of the judiciary with the executive and legislative branches of government and have the same respected by all.

In her statement posted on the SC website, Sereno said she would serve the country “with integrity and conviction” to restore the “people’s faith in good government.”

“I humbly accept this responsibility and by God’s grace commit myself to help fulfill the Filipino’s quest for true justice,” she added.

Well said.

It will be noted that Sereno was appointed as associate justice of the SC by PNoy in 2010. She was the president’s first appointee to the High Court.

Her appointment this time, as the first female chief magistrate of the land, is an affirmation that, like PNoy’s trust and confidence in Robredo, he has the same complete trust and confidence in Sereno that she will make the SC and the country’s judicial system a refuge for justice by the people, for the people and of the people, especially the marginalized ones, instead of being a sanctuary of the high and mighty.

Yes, the nation may have lost a good and brilliant leader in Robredo, but, in the same token, it has also gained a capable and intelligent woman in Sereno that has 18 years ahead of her to fulfill the legacy of good, transparent,credible and effective governance that PNoy wants implemented as well  in the country’s judicial branch.

Posthumous confirmation for Robredo is an insult

Now that DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo is dead, some members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) have the temerity to say that he will be getting his much-awaited confirmation posthumously.

What for?

Is it because of deep remorse that you, honorable gentlemen, are doing it now to cover up for your lapses?

Now that the onus is on you, honorable gentlemen again, you want to unburden your guilt so you will look clean and pleasing to the eyes of Robredo’s family?

You hypocrites!

You discredited the meritorious achievement of a good man, a non-traditional politician and an exemplary leader when he was alive, and now, in death, you are exalting him to high heavens, as if you only have found the best of what he was now that the whole nation is mourning his death?

What arrogance!

Is that how hard the job of the CA is, that it has taken 3 years before a competent, reliable and trusted leader could be confirmed?

If politics wasn’t the name of the game, how soon could a nominee, by no less than the leader of the country, be confirmed by the CA?  Check and balances, my foot!

“We were deprived the honor of confirming a great man, one of the best in the Cabinet,” Parañaque congressman Roilo Golez, said. “His place in the history of public service is secure.”

You bet, it is! But, let me ask you this: “How come you didn’t say it that way the first time Robredo was grilled by the CA? Or the second time?”

All of a sudden the CA members are washing their hands of any culpability.

All of a sudden the CA members are suffering from amnesia as to why Robredo has been by-passed the same number of times that he was appointed and re-appointed by President Benigno Aquino.

And now they want to confer it to him posthumously? When it matters most that such confirmation be given when the person is alive – not just for the sake of giving it, but because the person deserves it, now you smugs have the impudence to come forward and announce he will be getting it post-mortem? What an insult to Robredo and family.

Jesse Robredo is gone.

Long live Jesse Robredo!

Jesse Robredo’s fate

DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo

It has been three days now since Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and his ill-fatted plane, a twin engine Piper Seneca, piloted by the owner, chairman, and CEO of Aviatour Air, Capt. Jessup Bahinting, and assisted by his co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese national, crashed into the sea off the coast of Masbate, yet nothing more is known except that his aide and fellow passenger Police Chief Inspector June Paolo Abrazado was rescued and part of the wing and a flight manifest were found.

It has been for three days now also that the outpouring of affection, recognition and appreciation for Robredo – the man, the politician, and the leader – has kept coming, even as the family, friends and associates continue hoping against hope that he may be still alive.

Such outbursts of emotions always happen, when an individual suddenly disappears from the limelight – that is assuming, of course, if he or she is a public figure or a celebrity of some kind.

So, if many have known him to be a good, competent and even tempered person, why wasn’t he been confirmed the position of Interior Secretary by the Commission on Appointments until now?

Note that Sec. Robredo is one among the many cabinet members of President Benigno Aquino who has failed to win confirmation from the commission because of unresolved questions regarding their competence, ethical behavior or fitness for the job, so they say.

If President Aquino had faith and confidence in the integrity and capability of Robredo, making him a trusted lieutenant, what has the 12 senators and 12 congressmen comprising the commission and presided over by the Senate president seen negative in Robredo that he did not meet their approval?

How could Robredo be a liability to the government if this is what is said of him, among other things:

“Among Mayor Jesse’s personal accolades are the 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the 1996 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) Award, the Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM), 1998 Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines and the first ever “Dangal ng Bayan” Award of the Civil Service Commission. He was also cited by Asiaweek Magazine in 1999 for transforming Naga City from a lethargic Philippine city into one of the Most Improved Cities in Asia. His program “Kaantabay sa Kauswagan” (Partners in Development) gave priority to the impoverished people in Naga, cited by the United Nations as one of the Top 40 Best Practices in 1996.

“Robredo earned his Masters in Public Administration at the prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999 and completed his Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines where he ranked number one as a university and college scholar. He is also an Edward Mason Fellow and holds undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering from De La Salle University.”

How could the members of the commission not see the quality of the man as an ideal public servant, when he said the following statements after accepting the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in 2000:

We had many obstacles and pains when we started to experiment with a government system that veered away from the traditional. During that period, we’ve been threatened by ways that inflicted the social political and moral fabric of the community – rampant illegal gambling, indecent entertainment, crime, occasional abuse by the powers that be, poor tax collection, rising unemployment and sheer indifference.” 

Important political benefactors whose interests ran contrary to our reform agenda disowned us.

Businessmen who were my friends were affected by the city’s honest-to-goodness  tax collection campaign questioned our intentions and loyalties. We however stood our ground, strengthened our resolve and entrusted our faith to the people. We brought our office beyond the walls of City Hall and promised to make a Naga a better place to live in.”

Was it really the issue of check and balances that did Robredo in, in rejecting his appointment in as many times as he was appointed by PNoy, or is it a simple display of political arrogance that the commission played, as if the members are any better and far more superior than him? What a shame! That is what happens when decisions are made subjectively and not objectively. That is what happens when mostly traditional politicians are made to decide one’s fate. They don’t want their inflated egos pricked by somebody with progressive ideas.

Whatever it is, am sure coal embers are searing the heads of the commission members now.

For us who have admired Robredo’s people-oriented performance in government, let us hope and pray that his fate will find him in God’s loving embrace – if and when.

(Update on Robredo’s fate as of Tuesday, August 21, 2012:

Search and rescue operation turned into search and retrieval operation as Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s remains were found 55 metres (180 feet) under water near the coast of the central island of Masbate, where the plane went down Saturday. The plane fuselage was discovered 7:35 am Tuesday, and Robredo’s body was retrieved 8:15 am. It was foreign divers who battled strong currents to reach the wreck of the twin-engine Piper Seneca, which was lying overturned on the sea bed. Divers are now trying to retrieve the pilot and co-pilot’s remains.)