A former chief of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) has tagged as “illegal” an executive order of President Rodrigo Duterte placing the office under the watch of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) headed by a former Philippine Army chief.
The resigned lead convenor of the NAPC, Liza Maza, said in a Facebook post on Friday that Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 67 is illegal since it is contrary to Republic Act (RA) 8425 or the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act.
“The EO 67 provision transferring the NAPC to the DSWD is contrary to RA 8425 that created the commission and is therefore illegal,” Maza added.
Duterte on October 31 signed EO 67, which transferred the NAPC, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor under the DSWD; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), and the Cooperative Development Authority under the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI); and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Philippine Commission on Women and the National Youth Commission under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Maza’s Facebook post came a day after she slammed the order, calling it a “horror story” since it will result in “militarization of civilian bureaucracy, military junta and martial law.”
“The horror story this Halloween is EO 67 that was released [October 31] placing six policy oversight and advisory national commissions including the NAPC under the direct supervision of two former military officials Ano and Bautista,” Maza said in a Facebook post on Thursday, November 1.
Malacañang defended Duterte’s order. In a statement sent to reporters late Thursday evening, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said he finds Maza’s “misplaced, if not distorted” view of the revamp “unfortunate.”
Panelo argued that the appointment of Maza, one of the leftists appointed to government posts, did not make the Cabinet and her office communist.
“Her conclusion, therefore, that placing former military men in executive offices automatically translates to a military junta-led government is completely erroneous,” he said.
“The President’s inclusion of Left-leaning personalities in the Cabinet is part of his sincere efforts to end the communist insurgency by inviting them to put their talents to good use in serving the nation, instead of calling for the government’s ouster, and be agents for peace and unification,” Panelo added.
The spokesman said Duterte’s appointment of retired military men to key Cabinet or sub-Cabinet posts shows that he trusts the military.
“[It] reflects his trust [in] the military hierarchy known for its high degree of professionalism, discipline and can-do attitude. These men have sacrificed many hours of their lives, even at the expense of their personal time with their families, for the love of and loyalty to our country,” Panelo said.
He said the intent of EO 67 is to “promote greater efficiency, agency convergence and participatory governance in the delivery of essential public services to all the sectors of society, given that they are now transferred to line agencies.”
“This is also in line with the campaign promise of [the President] to make the bureaucracy more efficient and responsive to the needs of our people through rightsizing,” Panelo added.
Under EO 67, the executive office will control and supervise the Strategic Action and Response (STAR) Office, which is composed of the Presidential Complaint Center, Public Concerns Office, Quick Response Center and 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Center.
It abolished the Office of Participatory Governance and the Performance and Projects Management Office.
In a speech in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte said there is indeed a militarization in the government, contradicting statements made by newly-minted Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, also a former military chief, and by Panelo.
“I will not sit as President and let you render me inutile as you continue with your corruption there in Customs right in front of me. You sons of bitches. Now, you have a problem. They say it’s militarization of the government, correct,” he added.
Duterte last week reappointed former BoC commissioner Isidro Lapeña to head Tesda, with Guerrero replacing him at the bureau.
On Sunday, he ordered the military to “take over” the BoC.