Palace looking for Judy’s replacement

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President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to name a new head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) after the Commission on Appointments (CA), rejected anew Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s ad interim appointment, Malacañang said on Friday.

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In a press conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said no names have been raised yet on who will replace Taguiwalo but he added that an officer-in-charge will be named to head the department.

Majority of the CA members rejected Taguiwalo’s appointment in an executive session right after the two-hour hearing on Wednesday.

Taguiwalo was the third cabinet secretary of Duterte rejected by the CA after then foreign affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay and environment secretary Gina Lopez.

After Taguiwalo failed to get the CA members’ nod, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson conducted an online poll for the next DSWD secretary.

Vice President Maria Leni Robredo, Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Lorraine Badoy, and former Tarlac representative Monica Teodoro-Prieto are included in the list of people who might replace Taguiwalo.

Uson’s survey showed that Robredo, with 81 percent of the votes, has a wide lead over Badoy and Prieto.

But Abella shrugged off the online poll saying, “I’m sure the President has other ways of measuring a candidate’s capability aside from surveys. It means that the he has a different set of categories.”

Asked if there is a possibility that Duterte will appoint Robredo as DWSD secretary, Abella said it seems to be a “difficult choice.”

“Perhaps, there might be conditionalities that may not be too favorable regarding that. I don’t know. It all depends on the President,” he added.

“I mean, I’m not saying no for Leni. I’m just saying that it seems to be a difficult choice,” Abella said.

Robredo once served as housing czar but resigned last December after she was advised not to attend Cabinet meetings.

Meanwhile, Abella said it was possible that Taguiwalo may be appointed to another government office.

He added that during Taguiwalo’s stint as social welfare chief, she enjoyed Duterte’s “full trust and support,” even when she sided with leftist groups opposing the President’s position.

“We wish Secretary Taguiwalo all the best in her future endeavors. She knows she will always have the President’s gratitude and friendship for the time, albeit brief, that they spent together in the service of our people,” Abella said.

“I don’t know if that’s possible [that Taguiwalo may be reappointed in other government offices]. I don’t know if there’s a precedent for that but I would not be surprised. I mean, I don’t think it’s entirely unthinkable,” he added.

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