Archive | February, 2013

Civil Society groups express support for DSWD amid protests

A number of civil society organizations (CSOs) based in Mindanao expressed their all-out support for the Department of Social Welfare and Development and for Secretary Dinky Soliman amid protests by Barug Katawhan.

Statements of support of the CSOs were read during the press conference held yesterday in Davao City attended by a number of local and national media groups.

The Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) said that, “We condemn the manner by which some groups express their sentiments against the government. As the largest coalition of Mindanao-based civil society organizations, we uphold the principle of constructive engagement with the government. We strongly call for respecting legal processes and non-disruption of public service. Just as we acknowledge the need for strengthening local governance to effectively and efficiently address the needs of the community, we recognize this administration’s call for transparent, accountable and people-centered governance. There is no need to go to the extent of blocking the Regional Office and hampering the delivery of public service.”

Likewise, the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDRRA-Mindanao’s), a national network of 62 non-government organizations expressed its support saying, “as an advocate of transparent and accountable governance, we strongly support DSWD’s position for systematic and orderly way of distributing the 10,000 sacks of rice which is planned to be distributed to typhoon “Pablo” internally displaced families.”

On the other hand, the Volunteers for Poor Community Worldwide, Philippines, condemns the actions made by Barug Katawhan. The volunteers said that ” attacking the DSWD Office in Davao City and getting relief goods intended for victims of other typhoon is unfair. Some employees of DSWD never celebrated Christmas and New Year just to repack and send the relief goods to the victims. We must all understand that DSWD is an agency monitored the COA, that is why we understand that proper list of victims must be submitted and should be validated for transparency and fair distribution of relief goods. We hope also that poor people specially victims should not be used in any propaganda because they are already victims. We pray that everyone must have fair public judgement. “

The Civil Society Organizations call on concerned parties to face the problem with an open mind and heart. They said that the only resolution is through dialogue so that the right actions are appropriate and will truly benefit those who are affected by typhoon Pablo. ###

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“Dialogue, not destruction” – DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) condemns the hooligan acts of  Barug Katawhan and its supporters for the senseless destruction of government property and the stealing of relief goods in its Regional  Office in Davao City.

In the morning of February 26, members of Barug Katawhan and allied groups bearing the banners of Anak Pawis, Gabriela, KMP and KMU destroyed the gate of DSWD Region 11 office and forced their way inside the premises. They carted off sacks of rice and cartons of sardines, and protesters even went up the second and third floors of the building, shouting and threatening DSWD employees. The relief goods seized by the protesters had been allocated for victims of typhoon ‘Cresing’ in Davao del Norte. The DSWD Region 11 staff are now looking if there are other lost items in their offices.

Invitation to Talk

Earlier, DSWD Regional Director Prescilla Razon had invited the group to sit down for a dialogue.  Tents were set up in front of the office for the rallyists, who were invited to register and be interviewed so their needs can be responded to.  However, the rallyists refused to engage the DSWD regional staff and instead blocked all the gates of the DSWD regional office.  The group ignored Razon’s call for a dialogue; instead they aggressively destroyed the gates, forcibly entered the DSWD Region 11 premises, and stole goods intended for relief operations.

Barug Katawhan’s Cause

The day before, February 25, about 300 people organized by Barug Katawhan started a picket (February 25) at 5 pm. Congressman Teddy Casino addressed the group.

It can be recalled that Barug Katawhan blocked  the national highway of Compostela Valley last  January 15, 2013. In the negotiations with their leaders,  DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman agreed to provide 10,000 sacks of rice to people that Barug Katawhan claimed to have been deprived of government service. The sacks of rice will be made available as soon as Barug Katawhan provides DSWD with the list of beneficiaries, the places where they come from, the distribution plan and  focal persons from Barug Katawhan with whom the DSWD will coordinate. To date, however, despite consistent requests for the distribution list, Barug Katawhan has failed to provide the intended list of beneficiaries.  What was submitted to DSWD  was a list of repacking areas and the names of people who agreed to have these places used as distribution site. DSWD has checked with at least two of those in the alleged list, and they denied that they agreed to have their places used as repacking areas.

DSWD’s Action

DSWD is committed to serving the victims of the typhoon Pablo and the qualified beneficiaries of government programs in Region XI.  As explained to Barug Katawhan and other organizations that are supporting to group, the promised 10,000 sacks of rice can be made readily available but there has to be a system of ensuring that these will go to qualified beneficiaries.  DSWD is willing to hold dialogues and coordinate with Barug Katawhan and the groups they represent.  The regional office staff is waiting for the distribution list so that they can immediately do the validation and assessment to ensure that the needs of affected families will be responded to.

We are very saddened by these acts of aggression directed at our Field Office, as well as our personnel.  DSWD has been faithfully serving all sectors affected by the calamity.  Our people work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide much-needed services. We respond to the exigency of public service at great cost to ourselves and our families.  That we are now being subjected to harassment is deplorable.  This will leave us no choice but to pursue legal action against those who are responsible,” said Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman.

The DSWD Secretary appealed to the leadership of Barug Katawhan and its allied groups not to use the people for their own political agenda. “We are willing to resolve these issues, and serve those who are in need.  We need not engage in counter-productive propaganda war,” Sec. Soliman said. ###




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DSWD supports socio-economic programs for Bangsamoro

In line with the government’s commitment to fast track socio-economic development in Mindanao, the DSWD will implement cash-for work (CFW) and livelihood program geared towards uplifting the lives of the Bangsamoro people.

This developed following the historic visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao recently for the launching of the ‘Sajahatra Bangsamoro’ Program.

‘Sajahatra Bangsamoro’ or ‘Peace Bangsamoro’ in Arabi-Melayu-Bahasa, is a government socio-economic peace initiative that aims to uplift the health, education and livelihood of Bangsamoro communities.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman who joined President Aquino during the launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program, said that “the long wait is over for development and progress in Mindanao. Our Muslim brothers can now have access to basic social services and will eventually become government’s partners in nation-building.”

Secretary Soliman said that more than 11,000 family members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will benefit from the DSWD’s cash-for-work program. They will receive cash based on the prevailing regional wage rate in exchange for doing community projects.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro will be implemented in MILF communities for 18 months while awaiting for the signing of final peace agreement.

In a related development, Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the MILF said that they support the implementation of government’s programs and projects, especially the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program that “helps thousands of our brothers and sisters in the whole Mindanao Region.” He appealed that the government should closely monitor the program to prevent politicians from taking advantage of the beneficiaries to advance their political cause.

The Pantawid Pamilya program provides direct education and health subsidies to families who comply with certain conditions, including regular school attendance for children and regular health center visits for mothers and children.

Moreover, the DSWD recently released P5 million worth of livelihood assistance to the Municipality of Midsayap, North Cotabato.  The P5 million is the DSWD’s counterpart to the P5 million allocated by Congressman Jesus Sacdalan to initially benefit 500 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Alamada, Pikit, Aleosan, and Pigcawayan in North Cotabato.

Secretary Soliman said that Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries will also organize into cooperative to avail of the sustainable livelihood projects such as managing sari-sari stores and fertilizer production. ###

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DSWD launches Pantawid Pamilya’s Biometric Payout in Maguindanao

DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, DSWD ARMM Sec. Bainon Karon, DSWD ARMM Asec. Pombaen Kader, and Pantawid Pamilya National Project Manager Dir. Rodora Babaran observe the Biometric Payout in Upi, Maguindanao

DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, DSWD ARMM Sec. Bainon Karon, DSWD ARMM Asec. Pombaen Kader, and Pantawid Pamilya National Project Manager Dir. Rodora Babaran observe the Biometric Payout in Upi, Maguindanao

“Ang ating ginagawang biometric [system] ay pagpapaunlad para siguraduhin na ang tunay na dapat tumanggap ng tulong, siya mismo ang tatanggap [ng cash grants],” [Our biometric system is a way to ensure that the beneficiaries are the ones receiving the cash grants] Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said during the Launching of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’s Biometric Payout in Upi, Maguindanao last February 20, 2013.

Cleaner, More Efficient System

“Pantawid Pamilya launches the biometric system to ensure fraud-free CCT [Conditional Cash Transfer] implementation,” said Sec. Hadja Bainon Gabar-Karon, Regional Secretary of DSWD Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The biometric system uses fingerprint recognition to counter the reports of fraud and misrepresentation. According to Sec. Soliman, it addresses the numerous complaints that there are grant claimers who are not beneficiaries of the program. The system also aims to safeguard the program from the reports of baklas or tampered IDs and barangay officials or other people holding beneficiaries’ ATM cards.

With the new system, the identification and giving of grants to the beneficiaries will be more efficient. The system immediately displays the photo of the beneficiary and the amount of cash grant to be received after the identification.

According to Sec. Soliman, the verification is also faster because the system is connected to the Compliance Verification System where the Department of Education and the Department of Health monitor attendance of children and Rural Health Unit (RHU) checkups.

“Isa sa mga tuntungan ng pamahalaan ngayon ay ang matuwid na daan. Bahagi po ito ng pagsisigurado na nasa matuwid na daan tayo, na ang tunay na nangangailangan ang siyang tumatanggap sa tamang pamamaraan,” [One of the foundations of our government now is the matuwid na daan framework. This system is to ensure that we are following matuwid na daan, that the real disadvantaged are the ones who are receiving the grants in the right way] Sec. Soliman emphasized.

Partnership with beneficiaries, DSWD ARMM, LGU

“Ito po ay partnership ng magulang at ng lokal at pambansang pamahalaan,” [This is a partnership of parents and local and national government] Sec. Soliman said.

According to Upi Mayor Ramon A. Piang Sr., they are thankful of the trust that DSWD National and Regional had given them to launch the first Pantawid Pamilya biometric payout in their municipality. He is appealing to all Pantawid beneficiaries that they should honor and use that trust in a proper and right way.

The Local Government Unit (LGU) of Upi said that they coordinate with the school board, health board, school supervisors, doctors and health workers in RHU to check the compliance in enrolment, attendance in schools, and health checkups. Hon. Piang said that they also have cluster health teams to supervise the pregnancy tracking system in barangays.

The implementation of the program, according to Sec. Soliman, gets better every day because DSWD ARMM is looking for different ways to direct the help to the deserving. She attributed the increase in enrolment rate, health checkups, and number of children who are present in schools to the ensuring of proper program implementation.

Empowering youth, beneficiaries

The biometric system, Sec. Soliman said, is empowering not only the beneficiaries but also the youth like the scholars who adapted the system to identify beneficiaries.

“[Our team aims] to create and maintain a biometric system that is able to authenticate individuals reliably which will streamline processes and address compliance,” said Argie Abedejos, 18, one of the Income Creating Opportunities Thru Technology Project (ICOTP-ICT) scholars who developed the system.

According to Gilbert Carilla, Abadejos’s supervisor in project development, they are working towards “enhancement of the features of the system despite the challenging cases in Maguindanao, particularly in the data side.”

The coverage of the data and photo capturing are the registered households from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. As of February 20, 81,201 out of 156,188 targeted beneficiaries in Maguindanao and 17,554 out of 80,177 targeted beneficiaries in Lanao del Sur are already registered in the biometric system. ### (Pantawid Pamilya-NPMO-Social Marketing Unit)

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Parents of children “caught in the video on a drinking spree” to undergo parent effectiveness seminar – DSWD

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman said that the parents of children caught in the video on a drinking spree that was exposed in the social media will undergo the seminar on parent effectiveness once a month for six months to enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in parenting.

Secretary Soliman added that the parents who expressed their regret over the incident have also signed a letter stating that they will not allow their children to drink liquor and will closely supervise them.

Moreover, the store owner who sells the liquor to the minors was visited and strictly warned not to allow children to buy liquor or face sanctions.

It can be recalled that the official Facebook account of the DSWD received numerous complaints from concerned citizens regarding a 4-minute Youtube video of children “on the alleged drinking spree” that caused uproar among netizens. They asked the DSWD to trace the video source and to apprehend the responsible adults for the incident.

Secretary Soliman said that the DSWD, through its regional office in Region IV-A immediately coordinated with the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of Calamba, Laguna on January 26, 2013 for the a home visit of the address provided by an unidentified telephone caller.

An investigation revealed that a day prior to the incident on December 25, 2012,   the children already expressed their plan to drink liquor but their parents did not permit them.  Upon the insistence of the children, the parents finally allowed them.  The children confided during the interview by the social worker that they contributed to buy the liquor.

A parent who took the video admitted that she uploaded it in her Facebook account not knowing that somebody may access it.

As a result of the investigation, the CSWDO of Calamba immediately provided counselling sessions to the 11 children involved together with their parents and guardians on January 28, 2012. The CSWDO of Calamba will continue to provide counselling and other necessary interventions. Likewise, both parents and children will be required attend a seminar on Online Safety Session to keep them safe online.

“We urge the public to remain vigilant and immediately inform concerned authorities about incidents of child abuse in their communities. Maximize social media networks,”  the Secretary stated. ###

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DSWD assures funds, aid for ‘Crising’ victims

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) today assured that enough funds and relief supplies are in place for the victims of typhoon ‘Crising.’

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman said that P15.84 million in standby funds, P10.45 million in family food packs, and P42.44 million worth of relief supplies were prepositioned in the DSWD Field Offices IV-B, IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) affected by the typhoon.

In Region X, a total of 644 families composed of 3,220 persons coming from four (4) barangays of Valencia City, Bukidnon were affected and are now staying in five evacuation centers in Batangan, Maapag, Pinatilan, and Catambalon.  The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) of Valencia City provided 15 sacks of rice and 10 cases of sardines to affected families.  Standby funds worth P607,599.96 and 10,000 family packs worth P2.31 million  are available at the DSWD Field Office X in Cagayan de Oro City.

In Region XI, a total of 19,384 families composed of 96,205 individuals were affected by ‘Crising’ in 49 barangays, eight municipalities of Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. Eleven (11) evacuation centers were set-up in Region XI providing temporary shelter to 690 families composed of 2,996 individuals.

The DSWD released 9,000 family food packs worth P2.25 million to affected LGUs of Kapalong, Asuncion and Dujali, all in the province of Davao del Norte.  More than P22.66 million standby funds and food and no-food items including family food packs were allocated by DSWD for disaster relief operations in Region XI.

To date, total number of damaged houses is 84, all partially destroyed in the municipality of Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

In Region XII, a total of 2,929 families composed of 14,645 individuals were affected in seven (7) barangays of Kabacan, North Catabato.

Secretary Soliman directed the DSWD Quick Response Teams (QRTs) and Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Teams in the regions affected by typhoon ‘Crising’ to monitor the extent of damage brought about by the weather disturbance, particularly the flashflood and landslide prone areas and to assist LGUs in disaster relief operations. ###

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DSWD denies ex-worker’s claim of anomalies

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) today clarified that its poverty alleviation program Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) has not received any Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) from the Commission on Audit (COA) for 2010 and 2011 project implementation in Region XI.

For 2012, KALAHI-CIDSS received an AOM pertaining to delayed and unliquidated cash advances for local travels of officials and employees in the region and not at all related to the bunkhouses project or KALAHI-CIDSS implementation, as earlier raised by June Sanchez-Obenza, a former KALAHI-CIDSS worker.  The DSWD has responded to the AOM and mitigating measures are undertaken. Likewise, the DSWD and COA are in close coordination to better address this.

With the DSWD not having received any AOM from COA, the DSWD denies the accusations of Obenza,   who said that there are alleged irregularities in the implementation of the program committed by other KALAHI-CIDSS workers and officials of DSWD Region XI.

Obenza, together with two other KALAHI-CIDSS workers whose employment contracts ended on December 31, 2012,  accused two KALAHI-CIDSS workers of alleged falsification of documents and forging of signatures. She also accused Region XI Director Priscilla Razon and Human Resource Head Loreta Anas of dereliction of duty . Obenza filed on January 10 a grievance complaint regarding her non-renewal and some alleged questionable transactions of the regional office through the Grievance Redress System of KALAHI-CIDSS.

Contrary to Obenza’s claims that her issues were not acted upon by the Grievance Committee,  a special investigation was conducted by the National Project Management Team at the Central office from January 14-18.

The DSWD is now validating the results of the investigation on Obenza’s  grievance complaints and will expedite the resolution to finally shed light on the issues raised.

Likewise, the DSWD-Region XI committed to talk to Obenza and the two other former KALAHI-CIDSS workers regarding their employment contract.

Meanwhile, the DSWD-Region XI said that it already requested the COA to conduct special audit on the bunkhouses project. ###

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CDD approach empowers communities and re-connects goverment with citizens

Representatives of selected Developing Member Countries (DMC) cited the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the flagship anti-poverty projects of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), for being effective in empowering its beneficiary-communities into becoming active participants in local development.

This was revealed during the output presentation of the representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam following their field visit to Bohol, where they went to the municipalities of San Miguel and Carmen to observe and learn more about Kalahi-CIDSS implementation in the country.

The learning visit, which ran from February 4-8, 2013, was organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in coordination with the DSWD to provide the DMC representatives the opportunity to study the project’s features and processes, and to identify strategies and options that they can adapt in their own community-driven development (CDD) implementation.

Aside from visiting the project sites, which were a health center, a farm-to-market road, and a Level II water system in Carmen, a footbridge and an electrification project in San Miguel, the country-representatives also had discussions with DSWD Field Office VII staff members, Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteers, and local government officials on their experience in CDD implementation through the Project.

Aside from aiding in poverty alleviation, Kalahi-CIDSS also aims to improve local governance by increasing transparency and empower the citizens of beneficiary-communities.

As A.K.M Rezaul Islam, one of the Bangladesh representatives said, “The capacity development and empowerment of the community [from Kalahi-CIDSS] develop [volunteers’] leadership quality, confidence, and self-reliance.”

Dinh Quang Thang of Vietnam said that although his country already implements CDD, it did not involve volunteers as strongly as Kalahi-CIDSS does, a factor that he wants to be adapted by Vietnam. Dulce Guterres Junior, one of the Timor-Leste representatives, on the other hand, cited that the Project is able to empower citizens by putting the power back in their hands. “Kalahi-CIDSS involves volunteers, from the planning to implementation to project management,” Junio said. This was also the reflection of Cambodia representative Ny Kimsan, who also added that the clear volunteer structure of Kalahi-CIDSS provided proper checks and balances in the system, thereby increasing transparency and accountability.

Kalahi-CIDSS National Project Manager Edgar G. Pato responded to these by discussing how the Project invests in communities. “Kalahi-CIDSS encourages participation by building up individuals and capacitating communities to enable them to participate in development.”

Some of the representatives cited how the empowerment and greater participation of communities in implementing Kalahi-CIDSS projectsled to better maintenance of these structures. According to Islam, “The community participation in planning, implementation, and maintenance allows them to own the infrastructures which they themselves have built.” Kimsan said that the greater ownership of the citizens of their projects will allow the greater likelihood of sustainability.

Islam also lauded Kalahi-CIDSS for making the most out of its allocated funds into addressing the needs of communities. “Kalahi-CIDSS maximizes the benefits by utilizing minimal resources to communities,” he said.

Kalahi-CIDSS uses the CDD strategy in its response to poverty. This approach gives the citizenry the opportunity to have active control in deciding which projects will be implemented in their communities. The active involvement of communities in this type of program proved to be effective in community empowerment and poverty alleviation, as evidenced by the ten-year track record of Kalahi-CIDSS. As shared by Pato, “Leadership and governance are not just lodged on the leaders of the community, but also to the men and women living in the area.”

Evelyn Adolph of the Federated States of Micronesia shared that CDD might be the missing link that would re-connect the ties between the government and the citizenry. “It is important to introduce the CDD approach to reestablish the connection with the communities,” she said. “There should be a strong linkage between the government and the communities for development, and CDD can be used as the bridge for this” added Adolph.

Gerelchuluun Yondon-Oidov, one of the representatives of Mongolia said, “CDD allows people to have a better understanding of sustainable development and hope for a better future.” He added that he hopes to have this strategy adapted in his country, particularly since he said all conditions are ready in Mongolia for the implementation of CDD-type programs. ###

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