QUEZON CITY, Jan. 1 - With the leadership of Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reinforced its commitment to genuine public service by focusing all interventions around the concept of “maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo na walang bahid ng katiwalian” or prompt and compassionate service devoid of corruption.
In support to the Duterte Administration’s overall message of a ‘government for the masses, from the masses’, DSWD has aligned its strategies, policies, and implementation in knowing the public that it serves.
These are the major highlights of the Department’s accomplishments under the helm of Sec. Taguiwalo.
‘Kamustahan’ with partner beneficiaries
True to its mandate of providing prompt and genuine service to the poor, the Department has embarked on a nationwide ‘Kamustahan’ of its program beneficiaries, particularly those enrolled under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
As part of the 'Kamustahan', DSWD officials, led by Sec. Taguiwalo, have been visiting the poorest areas in different parts of the country. The aim of the activity is for DSWD officials as well as rank and file employees to see for themselves the situation faced by the country’s poorest sectors. This is to enable DSWD staff and officials to be better equipped at re-aligning the agency’s programs and services so they will be more responsive to the needs of beneficiaries. It is also a way to bring the DSWD closer to poor communities and encourage all DSWD employees to work with the poor in efforts to address their immediate needs against poverty. The DSWD’s main rallying call is “Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo (Prompt and compassionate service)” for the poor and the rest of the Filipino people.
A Kamustahan was led by DSWD Secretary herself, during her two-day visit in the CARAGA Region on December 14-15. The welfare chief personally interviewed a number of 4Ps beneficiaries at Brgy. Mambalili in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur and at Brgy. San Vicente in Butuan City.
Other DSWD officials have also started visiting other poor areas of the country. DSWD Undersecretary for Special Concerns Virginia Orogo held a 'Kamustahan' of 4Ps beneficiaries in Bonggao, Tawi-Tawi, while Undersecretary for Operations and Promotive Programs Ma. Lourdes Turalde visited poor families in Brgy. Niño Jesus in Libon, Albay with Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia of Region V.
Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns Jose Antonio R. Hernandez and his team met with 4Ps beneficiaries in South Cotabato. Undersecretary for Institutional Development Group Mae Fe Ancheta –Templa, on the other hand, conducted 'Kamustahan' in Barangays Magtuod and Bucana in Davao City with Assistant Bureau Director Leah Mejias and Region XI Director Mercedita Jabagat.
From December 9-23, the DSWD has visited a total of 216 households in the 18 regions of the country for the nationwide pilot-testing of its tool for the “Malawakang Kamustahan Project”.
According to Sec. Taguiwalo, it is important for officials and employees of the DSWD to personally visit the poor and not just wait for reports in the office. This way, they will have a better understanding of the situation poor families face every day, enabling them to further improve the Department’s programs and services to assist the underprivileged.
Mass information drive
To increase awareness of the programs and services it provides to poor Filipinos, the DSWD started conducting this year a Mass Information Drive. The first of the series of the information drive was held at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila on November 12 in coordination with the DSWD National Capital Region (NCR) and local government units (LGUs). This was followed by information caravans with sacadas in Hacienda Luisita, with Lumads who joined Lakbayan 2016.
For its last information drive in 2016 which was conducted on December 17, the DSWD partnered with the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Tzu Chi Foundation in order to provide not just information, but also services to poor families in Brgy. 105, Happyland, Tondo.
A team of information officers and social welfare officers from the DSWD provided information, education, and communication (IEC) materials to the residents of the barangay, while the DoH provided free health check-up and medicines. Students from TESDA, on the other hand, rendered free massage and haircut, while the DTI brought its Diskwento Caravan. Tzu Chi Foundation distributed 20 kilograms of rice for 200 residents.
The same day, the team visited Brgy. Isla Puting Bato, also in Tondo to distribute IEC materials and to explain each of the programs and services of the Department to the residents.
The informatin drive aims to educate poor Filipinos of the programs and services that the DSWD provides. It is also a way to reach the poor, as mandated by Sec. Taguiwalo.
From tropical depression ‘Ambo’ to severe tropical storm ‘Nina,’ a total of fourteen tropical cyclones hit the country in 2016.
The Department monitored these disasters, prepositioned family food packs (FFPs) in Field Offices to ensure ample resources for disaster-affected families, mobilized quick response teams (QRTs), and provided augmentation support to local government units (LGUs).
To further strengthen its disaster response operations, the Department through its Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB) launched in August its Emergency Operations Center for Disaster Response and its online version, the Virtual Operations Center (VOC) microsite available via the Internet.
The online facility makes information on the DSWD’s disaster preparedness and response efforts available to the general public, facilitating transparency and good governance.
With a plethora of lessons learned from Typhoon Yolanda that hit the country in November 2013, the Department also reinforced this year the prepositioning of FFPs at the local level to ensure that there are enough resources whenever a disaster strikes. It also strengthened even more its coordination with LGUs especially during the pre-emptive evacuation of residents in critical and low-lying areas and the provision of relief assistance to victims of disasters.
In October, the DSWD released the new family food packs that are distributed to disaster victims. The new FFPs are carefully packed inside a box and taped, and contain six kilos of rice, four cans of sardines, four cans of corned beef or beef loaf, and six sachets of coffee or cereal energy drink . The packs can sustain a family of five for two days.
Data shows that the DSWD has provided a total of P433,034 worth of relief assistance to affected families when Typhoon ‘Butchoy’ hit Region III in July; P1,015,600 worth of aid when severe Tropical Cyclone Carina struck Region II in August; and P13,433,927.30 worth of assistance to the Southwest Monsoon victims in Regions NCR, CAR, I, III, CALABARZON, VI and Negros Island Region also in August.
The Department also extended P3,684,792 worth of relief assistance to families affected by Typhoon Ferdie in Region II in September; P7,222,155 to the victims of Typhoon Karen in October; and a total of P120,960,265.62 worth of relief assistance to 2,416,591 individuals affected by Typhoon Lawin in Regions I, II, III, IV, and CAR also in October.
To help ‘Lawin’-affected families rebuild their homes, the DSWD has also started the distribution of Emergency Shelter Cash Assistance Program (ESCAP). Under the ESCAP, families with partially and totally damaged houses received P10,000 and P30,000 cash assistance, respectively.
As of December 23, the Department has distributed a total of P291,815,000.00 to 58,363 households in ‘Lawin’-hit areas. The welfare agency earlier issued a Memorandum Circular, listing the guidelines in the implementation of the ESCAP to ‘Lawin’-affected families to ensure its proper distribution.
The DSWD has also extended assistance to the families affected by the Typhoon Nina, which recently hit the Philippines from December 23-27.
As of December 29, a total of ₱92,618,506 worth of relief assistance has been provided to affected families and stranded passengers in Regions CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and V. Of the said amount, the Department provided ₱ 90,063,535 while the LGUs provided a total of ₱2,554,972.
Apart from providing assistance to victims of natural calamities, the DSWD also extended aid to families and individuals affected by man-made disasters. The Department provided P4,094,030 worth of relief assistance and P2,110,500 worth of cash aid to families and individuals who lost their homes due to a fire that razed Blocks 35 and 36 in Brgy. Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. It also extended care and recovery assistance to the victims of the bombing incident in Davao City in August.
The DSWD also extended aid to farmers affected by the onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon in Region VII and in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the form or rice subsidies and through its cash-for-work program.
Victims of armed conflict were also assisted through the provision of food packs and conduct of counselling. At the same time, Lumads who were displaced due to armed conflict were assisted in returning to their ancestral lands.
Assessment of Typhoons Yolanda and Pablo relief and housing aid
The DSWD embarked in an intensive review of its programs and services this year, with the Typhoon Yolanda disaster operation as a priority.
On the third year anniversary of one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, the Department released a series of report on its investigations on the efforts carried out during the onslaught of the super typhoon in response to the clamor of Filipinos for an explanation as to where the government disaster funds and donations went.
The reports revealed, among others, that there are still hundreds of thousands of ‘Yolanda’ victims who have not received Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) up to now. ESA is the provision of P10,000 and P30,000 cash assistance to families whose houses were partially and totally damaged, respectively. The cash aid can be used to purchase construction materials to repair a house or to build a new one.
In addition, 62% of all DSWD core shelters have yet to be built for the survivors who have lost their homes when the super typhoon struck the country.
Given the findings, the DSWD has been taking the necessary actions to provide assistance to ‘Yolanda’ survivors who have not received help until now. While it does not assure payment to the remaining families who did not receive ESA, the Department can provide the survivors with other available services like livelihood assistance and other basic services.
Meanwhile, the DSWD continues to provide livelihood opportunities and other income-generating opportunities to the survivors of Typhoon Pablo, considered the worst storm that hit the Philippines in 2012.
Overdue benefits for PWD sector
The sector of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) has been lobbying for additional benefits to help them become productive and live better and dignified lives despite their disabilities.
In support to this advocacy, the Department conducted the first ever PWD Summit on November 11, gathering some 350 PWDs to discuss the appropriate needs of the sector.
During the summit, the PWDs formulated an agenda which formed part of the DSWD’s recommendations for inclusion in the Philippine Development Plan for 2018-2022.
Likewise, as a result of the strengthened advocacy, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10754 or an Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability (DSWD) was signed, with DSWD as the lead. The IRR was signed by Sec. Taguiwalo, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, and National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Director Carmen Zubiaga.
Through the IRR, PWDs will now be able to enjoy a 20% discount and exemption from the value added tax on the sale of certain goods and services such as medicines and food for special medical purposes, medical and dental services, restaurants, lodging establishments, purchase of medicines, transportation fees, funeral and burial services, and recreation services.
On December 23, the PWDs already started to enjoy VAT-free purchases, and other benefits stipulated in the IRR.
Additional benefits for centenarians
In the second half of the year 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016 which pays homage to the elderly Filipino citizens 100 years old and above.
By 2017, the centenarians will be awarded P100,000 in incentives under the leadership of the Department to serve as recognition of the role of the elderly in nation building.
Assistance to soldiers killed in action/wounded in action
In line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directives to extend assistance to the families of soldiers killed in action/wounded in action, the Department and other NGAs came-up with the Comprehensive Social Benefits Program (CBSP) for AFP/PNP Battle/Duty Casualties and their Dependents which was approved by the cabinet during its meeting on November 3, 2016.
The CBSP provides the framework for the effective and efficient delivery of social services/assistance to the identified beneficiaries in recognition and appreciation of their heroism and dedication. It aims to provide high impact social assistance to the affected families to help reduce the effect of the loss or incapacitation of the KIA/WIA personnel and their dependents.
President Duterte’s directives included automatic enrollment of battle casualties’ families to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, provision of scholarships to their children, livelihood/employment for their spouses, provision of sacks of rice, extension of PhilHealth benefit packages to eligible surviving dependents, and establishment of regional one-stop-shop facilities that will facilitate the immediate release of death benefit claims.
The CBSP shall cover AFP and PNP casualties of legitimate military or police operations starting July 1, 2016. Based on data from PNP and AFP, there were 194 casualties from July 1-October 10, 2016.
Last August to September, the DSWD provided initial assistance to the families of KIA/WIA in Mindanao.
DSWD Field Offices in the regions where the families and dependents of the soldiers live have already conducted initial visits and have come up with assessments and recommendations based on their discussions with the family members. Social workers have also provided counselling to the dependents and relatives.
Among the 33 families visited by the Field Offices, 14 of them considered the slain or wounded soldier to be the head of the family. Only one wife identified herself as having a stable job, while two of the soldiers were responsible for sending their younger siblings to school.
Most of the soldiers’ dependent/s are also in need of assistance (educational, transportation, medical, and food subsidy). These forms of financial assistance are now being provided by the DSWD’s Crisis Intensive Unit or CIU. In the meantime, the DSWD Field Offices are preparing to enroll some of the parents of the soldiers in the Department’s indigent senior citizen pension.
Assistance to OFWs in distress
DSWD also conducted Humanitarian Mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, dubbed as “Operation Bring Them Home: Special Mission for Stranded Overseas Filipinos (OFWs)” from August 11, 2016 to September 12, 2016 with the end goal of bringing home the stranded/ overstaying Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in crisis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Humanitarian Team was led by former U/sec. Vilma B. Cabrera, OPG-Protective Programs and A/sec. Hope V. Hervilla, OPG.
The DSWD Team served a total of 9,476 OFWs from different companies such as Saudi Bin Laden Group, Saudi Oger, Mohammad Al Mojil (MMG), and various sub-contracting companies in three major cities of KSA: Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam/Al-Khobar.
A total of 1,511 OFWs from Saudi Oger Company and Mohammad Al Mojil were repatriated between August 30 to October 12, 2016 and their transportation expenses (plane tickets) have been provided by the Saudi Government.
Services provided in KSA include psychosocial, counseling, food packs, hygiene kits, transportation and financial assistance.
Upon arrival in the Philippines, they were provided with financial assistance amounting to Php2,000 – 10,000. Majority received food packs, educational assistance and endorsement/referred to Sustainable Livelihood Programs (SLP), Local Social Welfare Development Offices (LSWDO).
During the Embassy on Wheels from November 13 to 17, 2016 in Al Khobar/Dammam, the SSA Office in Riyadh reached out to close to 500 workers from Al Harbi Trading and Contracting Company, Rakan Trading and Contracting Company, Saudi Withcon Co. Ltd., Real Estate Development and Investment Co. (Redico), Mohammad Al Mojil Group (MMG), Saudi Oger Ltd, Saad Group and Rajeh Handel Al- Marri and Sons Company (RHM) and 6 individual clients (including one from Al Harbi and another from Saudi Oger).
DSWD as Voice of the Poor in 2017 and beyond
As 2016 closes and 2017 begins, Sec. Taguiwalo also said that the agency will adopt a new vision and mission which also takes off from the Duterte government’s Ambisyon Natin 2040, the government’s 25-year long-term vision for the Philippines.
“At the DSWD, we will also set a new vision: we envision all Filipinos free from hunger and poverty, have equal opportunities, enabled by a fair, just, and peaceful society. We are one with the Filipino people. And because we have a new vision, so will we also carry a new mission: the DSWD will spearhead social welfare and development programs with government agencies, partners, and the Filipino people. The DSWD will serve as the voice of the people in the government, able to articulate their welfare and development needs, and provide substantive policy inputs for the government’s achieve poverty reduction plan,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that the department’s vision and the way to achieve it will be based on actual people’s needs.
“We will execute our social protection mandate not just through cash transfers, but with policy alternatives for the well-being of the people. We have to sharpen our saws to achieve our vision. Our organization, too, should be resilient. We will improve the welfare of the DSWD workforce. We will exercise due diligence to ensure that MOA workers and Job Order (JO) workers are given the dignity of labor. They must receive benefits due their work. I want to see emerging leaders in the DSWD. We have to propagate our expertise to the younger social welfare professionals in our department,” she said.
Also in 2017, the DSWD is expected to directly contribute to the President’s 10-point socio-economic agenda along: investment in human capital development to include health and education systems; continued implementation of social protection programs to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and strengthened implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.
The Department will also continue to conduct ‘Kamustahan’ activities with beneficiaries and information caravan in far flung areas to ensure that all needy, vulnerable and marginalized Filipino will have equal opportunities to avail of the programs and services of the government.
DSWD will make regular assessment activities as integral to its operations so that regular check and balance activities on the implementation of programs and services are established.
With such a huge task ahead, DSWD cannot do this alone. Strengthening partnership and collaboration with partners is therefore, also a key part of DSWD’s thrusts and priorities next year. (DSWD)