President cites ‘reports’ linking CCT funds to arms purchase by Reds

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SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA — Following the rejection of his Left-leaning Social Welfare chief, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday said he has received reports that government funds were being used by communist fighters to buy weapons under the watch of then Social Welfare Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo.

File photo of President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Social Welfare Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo while visiting the typhoon-stricken communities in Batanes on October 14, 2016. KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Duterte said there were reports claiming that some funds for the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program were granted by Ms. Taguiwalo to poor members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the communists’ armed wing.

But while he had no problem with Leftist fighters receiving money from government for their food, Mr. Duterte said there were speculations that the subsidy was instead spent to purchase ammunitions after the NPA said it plans to intensify its recruitment.

“Baka naibili ng mga bala o armas, because of the pronouncement of Sison that they are expanding, that they are recruiting,” Mr. Duterte said, referring to founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

“So, therefore, they would need more arms. They can buy, ambush, steal, or extort, whatever,” he added.

Asked if he shares the same suspicion, the President said: “Hindi ko sinabi ’yan. Merong mga reports (I did not say that. There were reports).”

“I leave it to the others to pass judgment,” he added.

Ms. Taguiwalo’s appointment had been bypassed five times before the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejected her ad-interim appointment after more than a year in office. She is the third Duterte-appointee rejected by the powerful legislative body.

It was not immediately clear why the Left-leaning Cabinet official was rejected, but there were speculations that the collapse of peace talks between the state and communists created an air of uncertainty over her position.

In his previous interviews, Mr. Duterte lamented the CA’s decision on the “bright” Ms. Taguiwalo and said he could not do anything about it. He also said he has yet to find a replacement for her.

The President has also insisted he does not try to influence the commission, even though he has the backing of a legislative super majority.

Social Welfare Undersecretary Emmanuel A. Leyco was designated as the Social Welfare department’s officer-in-charge. — Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral



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