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Bautista to head DSWD; Solons lament Duterte’s choice

From the National Food Authority (NFA) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)?

President Rodrigo Duterte now wants Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista to head the DSWD upon the soldier’s retirement on Oct. 15.

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In a speech to a group of alumni of the Philippine Military Academy on Thursday night, the President announced Bautista as his choice for DSWD secretary.

“I’ll announce it, the next DSWD secretary . . . Rolly Bautista,” he said. The DSWD is presently headed by acting Secretary Virginia Orogo.

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Mr. Duterte seems to have changed his mind on the post-military career of Bautista. Last month, as he was making the rounds of regions ravaged by Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut), the President initially said he wanted Bautista to take over the NFA, succeeding resigned Administrator Jason Aquino.

‘Social warfare’

But the militant Makabayan party-list block in the House of Representatives opposed Bautista’s looming appointment and what it described as the continuing militarization of the bureaucracy.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus lamented that with another former general heading the DSWD, “social welfare will become social warfare.”

Civilian office

“Delivery of social protection programs will be further militarized and the conditional cash transfer program will be further aligned to counterinsurgency operations that terrorize poor communities,” De Jesus said.

Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo also scoffed at the President’s choice as her successor, reminding him that the DSWD “is a civilian [office] mandated to provide welfare assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.”

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“Social welfare principles include upholding the dignity of individuals and respecting their rights. Hence, a strong emphasis on people’s participation in the crafting and execution of the agency’s programs is a given,” Taguiwalo said.

“Under the present administration, which has again and again violated the rule of law, ‘civilian supremacy over the military’ is being thrown out of the window,” she lamented.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said Bautista’s appointment only showed the “continuing militarization and control of the bureaucracy by the de facto military junta now in place in the country.”

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