MANILA, Aug. 13 -- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo yesterday presented to the members of the House Committee on Appropriations the proposed budget of the Department for 2018.
“Narito ako ngayon sa diwa ng pakikipagkaisa para bumuo ng isang makatarungan, maka-mahirap, at maka-mamamayang budget para sa mamamayang Pilipino (I am here in solidarity to craft a just and a pro-poor and pro-people budget for our fellow Filipino citizens),” Sec. Taguiwalo said in her opening statement.
“Handa akong makipagtulungan sa layuning tiyakin na ang mga rekurso ng gobyerno na dumadaan sa DSWD ay magagamit ng tama at wasto, at walang napupunta sa katiwalian. Ito ang tagubilin sa akin at sa ating lahat ni Pangulong Duterte, at ito din ang aking personal na prinsipsyo at kinikilalang tungkulin (I am ready to work with you with the goal to ensure that the resources of the government, coursed through the DSWD, will be used right and without any trace of corruption. This is the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to us and this is also my guiding principle),” she added.
The proposed budget of the DSWD for 2018 amounts to P137,556,963,000, higher by 7.41 percent from the previous year’s approved budget.
According to Sec. Taguiwalo, the increase in the amount can be attributed to higher personnel services for the salary adjustments of staff based on Salary Standardization Law (SSL 4) and an increase in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of the Department for the health benefits of all Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.
“Last year, 1.3 million beneficiaries of 4Ps were removed under the impression that they have already crossed, but we informed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that we are still in the process of validating this, so they returned the allocation for the health benefit. Hence, the increase in the budget” Sec. Taguiwalo explained.
The DSWD has a total of 29 programs, activities, and projects under its 2018 proposed budget, three (3) of which have had their allocations cut due to low utilization.
“The top eleven programs of the Department with the highest amount of allocated funds in the 2018 proposed budget include 4Ps with P89.4 billion for 4.4 million beneficiaries; the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens with P19 billion for 3 million beneficiaries; Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) with P7 billion for 345,957 poor household beneficiaries; Kalahi-CIDSS community-driven development (CDD) program with P5 billion for 308, 961 poor household beneficiaries; and the Protective Services Program for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances, which has been allotted P3.5 billion,” Sec. Taguiwalo reported.
The programs also include the Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP) with P3.4 billion for 1.7 million children beneficiaries; Disaster Response Rehabilitation with P2 billion for 364,300 individual beneficiaries; provision for center-based clients with P1.5 billion for a target of 11,733 clients; and Tax Reform Cash Transfer Program with P1.1 billion, which has been included by the DBM and the Department of Finance (DOF) as budget for administrative cost for P200 per month for one (1) year cash transfer program for 10 million poorest Filipino households.
Also included is the Technical Advisory Assistance and Other Related Support Services, a program that capacitates Local Government Units (LGUs), with P891 million; and the Bangsamoro Umpungan sa Nutrisyon (BangUn) Project or the feeding program for malnourished children in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao as directed by Pres. Duterte, with P156 million budget.
The DSWD is ranked 6th in the list of national government agencies (NGAs) with the highest budget allocation for 2018.
Inter-agency efforts in fighting poverty
During the budget deliberation, Sec. Taguiwalo emphasized the importance of close coordination and cooperation between different government agencies in efforts to fight poverty.
“We would like to reiterate that the programs and services of the DSWD are in the final analysis only stop-gap measures when compared to the gaping holes that need to be filled when it comes to addressing widespread and deepseated poverty of the large majority of the Filipino people. It will take the whole of government to fight poverty. Inter-agency efforts are very important,” she explained.
“LGUs and national government agencies must work together to implement genuine social welfare & support programs for the poor nationwide. We want better, more sustainable programs that will empower them and make them independent, helping them fight poverty,” Sec. Taguiwalo added.
“The work load in the Department is enormous, and the problems we face are myriad because they are tightly connected to and rooted in the systemic poverty the Filipino people. We are a department that works very, very hard to serve the poor and those in need, and the duty of the leadership is to protect the DSWD’s resources and ensure that funds are utilized properly and correctly so they directly benefit our clients and beneficiaries who are among the poorest of the poor and the most neglected sectors of Philippine society,” she said.
Present during the 2018 budget hearing were the members of the executive and management committees of the DSWD, the executive directors of its three (3) attached agencies, the regional directors of all field offices, and some employees of the Department. (DSWD)