Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Editorial: Red scare, paranoid LGUs, and pork

THERE is an apparent move to discredit the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) starting with the alleged statement by President Rodrigo Duterte against former Secretary Judy Taguiwalo that the secretary gave assistance to the New People's Army (NPA).

Duterte has since clarified that last August 29: "The statement saying that Taguiwalo used the money [for NPA] did not come from me. It came from the hand of congressman – well, from the military, maybe. But that's not from me. Otherwise, I would not have reappointed and reappointed her."

Duterte was earlier quoted as saying that Taguiwalo was accused of spending money to support the NPA's procurement of arms and bullets, an accusation Taguiwalo denied.

Apparently irked by the media's apparent attempt to put up a he said-she said war, Duterte said, "Let me be very clear: To the communists, listen. I don't care if poor NPA rebels or law-abiding citizens in a poor village received money. They need that for food. I don’t care how they spend the money."

"On my part, I don't want them to buy bullet and gun. It’s fine with me if meager [assistance] would be given to the poor. Do they have the time to think of [buying such]? So [former] Secretary Taguiwalo, you are barking up the wrong tree,” he said.

Stepping back and listening to our cynical self, we see a story being created, a story of distrust, designed to cast aspersion on the inroads of DSWD into the real poor and create a clamor for intervention by local officials on how DSWD operates. We may be cynical, but, don't we all agree that the bottomline of Taguiwalo's rejection as DSWD secretary was not about the NPA but about the funds that traditionally were used by politicians to win patronage in the remote areas and the slums where the bulk of the voters come from.

We can almost hear the politicians saying, "We are the ones who know our people better, so we are the ones who should be distributing assistance to ensure that rebels cannot get hold of these."

But then, Duterte was very clear when he said, "I don't care if poor NPA rebels or law-abiding citizens in a poor village received money. They need that for food. I don’t care how they spend the money."

So, yes, not just former Secretary Taguiwalo is barking up the wrong tree, the plotters of this red-baiting story are doing so as well.

The municipality of Kapalong apparently went ahead with the plot when it blocked and harassed a DSWD team in its conduct of a one-stop shop (OSS) services activity there last August 30.

As reported by DSWD itself, the team led by Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Secretary Group (Osec Group) Prof. Aleli Bawagan said, "Our negotiations with the LGU officials continued until we all reached a consensus that we would send an advance party to the community so the IPMR can tell members of the paramilitary group Bagani of our planned arrival at 5 a.m. the following day — which is today, August 31. Came early evening yesterday (Monday) at 6:30 p.m., however, the IPMR went to us to the small lodging house where we were staying to tell us that the paramilitary group Bagani refuses to allow us into the area. The Bagani also warned us that if we insisted, there would be killing. ‘Sasampulan daw kami.’ Kapalong Mayor Timbol has also told local DSWD personnel that she is against us proceeding and has practically prohibited the staff from going.”

Red-scare, scenario-setting, and then either an offer to do it themselves or a declaration that they can do it themselves and after which every other politician will make it difficult for DSWD to do its job. Then the band plays announcing the officials' arrival and relief mission. Style niyo bulok.
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