Sotto remark in CA hearing causes stir
It was not only for her communist links and past that Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo found herself doing some explaining before the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday.
Taguiwalo was asked by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III why she had two children but her status was single as indicated in her personal information.
“Just on the lighter side, Senator (Franklin) Drilon and I were looking at the personal information about you and you have two children, daughters or sons? But you’re single?” Sotto asked Taguiwalo on her first appearance before the CA labor, employment and social welfare committee.
The secretary said she had two daughters.
“OK. My life has never been a normal one. I’ve never had a whole mother-father-children kind of thing except when I was growing up in Bacolod,” she said.
She said she graduated from the University of the Philippines in 1970 and from 1972 to 1986 “it had been a life underground or in prison.”
“So, my story would be different from the stories of those who have gone through, corporation, etc.,” she said.
“In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag lang ay na-ano lang. Thank you, you have my 100-percent support, Madam Secretary,” Sotto said.
But Taguiwalo had a rejoinder for Sotto. “Senator Sotto, I teach women’s studies in UP so we respect all kinds of families and that includes solo parents. Thank you,” she said.
After netizens protested on social media Sotto’s exchange with Taguiwalo, the senator apologized to those who may have been offended.
A joke Sotto, a comedian-turned-politician, said that he meant his statement to be a joke and that “almost everybody laughed.”
Taguiwalo defended her student activist days and her membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines upon questioning by Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
She told Lacson he asked her a “tricky” question when the senator asked whether she had renounced violence as a means to show dissent against the duly constituted authority.
“As a member of the Cabinet of President Duterte, I renounce violence as it is. I am willing to work with him so we can put an end to armed conflict that has beset our country for many decades,” she said.
Lacson said he would support Taguiwalo’s confirmation.
Confirmation hearings were suspended by the committee after more CA members said they wanted to subject her to questioning.
Taguiwalo told reporters that she expected that she would be grilled about her past, especially since she was nominated by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to the Cabinet.
“My boss now is the President. They (NDFP) nominated me but I’m not their appointee. I am the President’s appointee,” she said.
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