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Pantawid Pamilya: Money for nothing? – Written by Karin Schelzig

Children in the PhilippinesMore than 4.4 million poor Filipino families receive regular cash grants from the government to help them make ends meet.  But they aren’t getting money for nothing—there is a catch: families only get the cash if their children go to school and get regular health check-ups, and if the parents go to family development sessions every month.
Family development sessions cover a diverse range of topics from nutrition and hygiene to disaster preparedness and active citizenship.  From small beginnings in 2008, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program  has grown to become the 3rd largest conditional cash transfer program in the world, after Brazil and Mexico. The name loosely translates to building bridges for Filipino families, implying temporary support to help poor families cross over to a life of self-sufficiency.
Is it working?  In a word, yes.  The verification system shows that families are complying with the conditions, which are sometimes also called co-responsibilities.  In other words, they are holding up their end of the bargain.
The most recent impact evaluation compared families just below the poverty line (who receive Pantawid grants) with families just above the poverty line (who don’t receive the grants). In most other respects these families are fairly similar.  By comparing these two groups, we can see that Pantawid improves children’s access to health services, keeps children in school, and reduces child labor in terms of the number of days they work.  Also, the Pantawid parents surveyed were more optimistic about their children’s future than then non-Pantawid parents.
And yet there are some vocal critics in the Philippines who seem to think that the cash transfers are overly generous politically motivated hand-outs that which encourage people to be lazy. We have clear evidence from here, and from more than 50 other countries with similar programs, to show this is not true. So what is going on?
Maybe some people don’t understand what kind of money we are talking about.  It is not actually very much, and it is definitely not enough to make people kick back, stop working, and enjoy the good life.
Families get 500 pesos ($11.40) per month for meeting the health conditions. For meeting the education conditions, they get 300 pesos ($6.80) per month for each child in preschool or elementary, and 500 pesos for each child in high school, for up to three children during the 10 months of the school year.  While a family with two children in high school and one in elementary could receive up to 19,000 pesos ($431), a young family with a pregnant mother and a toddler would receive at most 6,000 pesos ($136) per year.
In 2014, the average family right at the poverty line received about 9,400 pesos ($213).  That clocks in at only about 7% of their total annual spending.  Pantawid families can’t afford to be lazy, and the evidence confirms this: Pantawid adults are actually more likely to be looking for additional work than adults from near-poor families that don’t get the grant.
Maybe some people don’t understand why poverty rates have not come down very much if the government is spending all this money on Pantawid Pamilya.  It turns out that while the cash transfers are reducing the poverty gap—which measures the depth of poverty—they are not high enough to actually lift many people over the line.
In other words, poor people are becoming less poor, but they are not becoming non-poor.  This has a lot to do with the fact that the value of the benefit hasn’t changed since the program started in 2008.  Inflation has made the grants worth a lot less today than they were then.
At the beginning, average transfers were about 20% of families’ annual spending, making the support much more significant than the 7% we see today. Benefit levels ought to be increased at least to keep pace with inflation, as recently happened in Indonesia.
Despite the erosion in value, the regular cash support is helping poor families make sure that their children are healthier and more educated so that they have a shot at a better future. I would call that money well spent.
This article was originally posted on the Asian Development Blog and containing a hyperlink (http://blogs.adb.org/blog/pantawid-pamilya-money-nothing)  to the original.

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DSWD assists families displaced by armed conflicts in Mindanao

Evacuees in Maguindanao wait for their turn to receive their DSWD food packs from volunteers.

Evacuees in Maguindanao wait for their turn to receive their DSWD food packs from volunteers.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has provided a total of P4.85 million-worth of food packs, and other food and non-food items, as augmentation assistance, to the local government of Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, for the families displaced by the ongoing clash between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) which started on February 27.

DSWD is assisting 2,090 families or 10, 450 persons who have been affected by the armed conflict. They are now staying in the six evacuation centers set-up by the local government unit (LGU).

As of today, the DSWD-Field Office XII has a stockpile of 70,000 family food packs worth P25.2 million and assorted food and non-food items worth P17.5 million ready for distribution to evacuees when necessary.

Likewise, a standby fund of P2 million is also available for the purchase of emergency relief supplies.

Meanwhile, DSWD also continues to assist the families displaced by the ongoing clash between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and BIFF in Pagalungan in Maguindanao and Pikit in North Cotabato.

The LGU of Pagalungan received an augmentation assistance of P679,010 worth of food packs and other food and non-food items.

A total of 1,820 families or 9,100 persons have been affected by the armed conflict in the said town. Of these, 1,733 families or 8,665 persons are staying in the eight evacuation centers set-up by the local government.

In Pikit, DSWD has given P1.3-million worth of family food packs and malong to the local government. The armed conflict in this town has displaced some 3,169 families or 15,845 persons. They are now staying in 13 evacuation centers.

DSWD is working with the Social Welfare and Development Department of  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in delivering the goods to the LGUs.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that DSWD-Field Office XII continues to coordinate with concerned LGUs to determine other interventions and services needed by the evacuees. ###

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Keynote Address of Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles at the Mamasapano na? In Pursuit of Peace, Truth, and Justice Forum

keynote messageKEYNOTE ADDRESS: In pursuit of peace, truth and justice… 
At the Bangsamoro Peace Forum, held at ISO, Ateneo de Manila University
By Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
26 February 2015

Good afternoon.

A  month ago yesterday, all hell broke loose at Mamasapano in Maguindanao  and, with it, the hopes we were nurturing for the timely  passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would conclusively shift the MILF struggle from armed to electoral, from violent to peaceful.  Or so it seems.

Are we now consigned to picking up the bits and pieces of a Humpty Dumpty of a BBL; or are we tasked to do something else?  I think you and I are on the same page when you call this afternoon’s activity a forum on the Bangsamoro – in pursuit of peace, truth and justice.  For the forcible deconstruction triggered by Mamasapano compels us to a reconstruction, a recovery, a rethinking that must go deep and far and wide if we are to do justice to truth and the pursuit of peace.

Amidst the din and frenzy, the death and despair, the grieving and recriminations, we must go deep into a space within ourselves—as individuals, as communities, and as a people, and face up to certain hard questions.  We may not have all the answers, but, as the poet Rilke says, sometimes the questions are more important than the answers.

I propose three questions:

First, what happened at Mamasapano and how do we make sense of it?
Second, how has the fall-out from Mamasapano impacted on the GPH-MILF peace process and what are our stakes in it?
Third, given the saber-rattling and name callng, what is to be done?

As we tackle these questions, may I further propose two guideposts?
•    Embrace history as our guide.
•    Avoid dualism.

First – What happened at Mamasapano and how do we make sense of it?

By now we have a clearer picture of what happened during that longest dawn and day and night at Mamasapano.  We have the cold statistic of 67 deaths, not just 44, of police commandos and Muslim combatants and civilians including an 8-year old child.  Several bodies are probing the why and the wherefore—why things went terribly wrong, and who is or are called to account.

The details, and the accountabilities, I leave to the investigating bodies.  My concern here is the question: how do we make sense of it?  And here we must take the long view, a deep breath, and reach far back into our common history to begin to make sense of the carnage at Mamasapano.

The Statement from Mindanao, issued 15 days ago by religious leaders led by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of the Archdiocese of Cotabato and joined by Jesuit presidents of Ateneo univesities in Mindanao, rightly says that no one has a monopoly on guilt, or on righteousness.  The statement reminds us that for 300 years, a proud Moro people stood up to Spain, the United States, and a succession of Philippine governments, colonial and republican, to defend their sovereignty and claim their homeland.  They paid the price in blood – the massacres of Bud Dajo, Bud Bagsak, and Jabidah.  In the end they, and the lumads, the indigenous peoples, are pushed to the margins by the guns of Pax Americana, the waves of migration from the north and central islands, and the shrewdness of a Torrens title.

The past 45 years of intermittent warfare in Mindanao have claimed the lives of at least 150,000 combatants and civilians. This has led to the “mutual insight” that guns, violence and wars only fuel the need for more guns, violence and wars in a macabre death dance with no end in sight but the end.  It has been said that peace is the only way to peace.  Proof of this is that, in the past three years, the ceasefire between the government and the MILF has held without a single skirmish – and this is by the accounting not of OPAPP and the negotiating panel but of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The bloodbath at Mamasapano does not debunk the imperative of peace.  On the contrary, Mamasapano tells us – and may I paraphrase the poet E.E. Cummings here – that, of peace, we must be more careful than of anything else.  It is a beacon but it is also a fragile flower.  It lives in the hearts of men and women but, stunted, it can also turn toxic.

We must make sense of Mamasapano by learning the lessons of history; and by keeping our ears close to the ground.  War’s alarms ring in the halls of Congress and in social media but not in the blood-drenched fields of Maguindanao where people, and children most of all, pay the price of the conflict.

Second – How has the fall-out from Mamasapano impacted on the GPH-MILF peace process and what are our stakes in it?

It has been said that the BBL is as much a casualty of Mamasapano as the fallen 67.  True, two legislators have withdrawn sponsorship of the BBL bill. True, the MILF is being faulted for, demonized even, for breaking the peace. And our peace negotiators, myself included, have been criticized for speaking in behalf of MILF.

More specifically, some lawmakers have called for the resignation of GPH Panel Chair Miriam Ferrer, GPH-CCCH Chair Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, and myself.  These legislators   have charged us with being spokespersons, even lawyering for, MILF.  They have called the BBL a “sell-out” for being one-sided and favoring MILF.

But what is the truth?  The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB, precursor to the BBL, was painstakingly crafted over three years of hard negotiations with the MILF, and the fact that, more than once, negotiations nearly broke down is a testament to the integrity of the process.  The four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro or FAB, signed by the parties in September, 2012, took 16 months to complete, 13 months beyond the timetable projected in the FAB, precisely because negotiating positions were so difficult to bridge.

On the side of government, the most contentious issues were first threshed out with the concerned national agencies in discussions which sometimes seemed as difficult as the negotiations with the MILF.  After each negotiation round in Kuala Lumpur, the GPH panel and myself, briefed the designated peace observers from the House of Representatives, as well as key members of the Senate peace committee, on the progress of the talks.  In the last rounds of talks in KL, our peace observers from Congress even accompanied the GPH Panel to Kuala Lumpur so that they could personally witness the rigor and difficulty of the peace negotiations.  No one told us then that we were betraying the interests of the republic.

The CAB, and later the BBL, has been subject to consultations and forums particularly in but not limited to Mindanao.  The private sector and big business, academe, religious leaders and officials both Christian and Muslim, civil society organizations have weighed in on the peace process and the agreements they have produced.  All signed documents were immediately posted online, widely covered by media, with infographics reprinted in major broadsheets.  But the truth is also that few of those who are talking loudly today took much interest in all these then.

They say that peace is not an easy path, sometimes it’s like walking a tightrope.  But there is no alternative to peace.  War cannot end war.   Religious officials, civil society leaders, business persons, academicians have spoken out who live and work in Mindanao.  They know how destructive war is, and how fragile peace is.  That is why, to a person, they have issued calls for peace very early on when thick haze still hung over Mamasapano.  They called for a resumption of congressional hearings on the BBL.

Some legislators and politicians wish to demonize the MILF.  But I can say, from working with the MILF in the past three years, that they have earned the trust and respect of GPH peace negotiators with a ceasefire that has held firm since the Al Barka incident in October, 2011.  The trust of the AFP has been won with successful joint operations against lawless elements and to rescue kidnap victims, and some occasional PNP officials who wandered into hostile territory, in central Mindanao.  And most of all, they have won the trust and respect of the whole-of-government for choosing time and again to stay on the table through the stickiest negotiations, shifting from winner-take-all talking points to joint and mutual problem-solving to move the multiple tracks of the peace process forward – not just in pursuing the political settlement in the autonomous Bangsamoro , but also in the delivery of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro peace dividends, the crafting and adoption of the Bangsamoro Development Plan, and the groundwork for the phased and gradual decommissioning of MILF combatants in the context of the comprehensive Normalization Annex.

To say so is not lawyering for them but speaking the truth in love, to borrow a line from scripture.

I find it oddly strange that it is legislators and politicians who have not witnessed, or felt, firsthand the scourge and ravages of war in Mindanao who come charging at our peace structures with a wrecking ball.  What is it like to live your life forever on the run?  What is it like to lose your home, and your wits, because bombs come raining from the sky?  What is it like to force your adolescent daughter to work abroad because there is no decent work for bakwits or semi-permanent refugees?  What is it like to force your underage daughter to marry because there is no security of home for her?  What is it like to know that the little boy that you suckled at your breast will not grow up to learn reading and arithmetic and how to make a living from his talents and acquired skills?  What he will learn best is how to point the gun and pull the trigger and, at what is supposed to be the prime of his life, he will wake up on many mornings with the knowledge that that this is a day when he may kill or be killed.

This is what war has meant in Mindanao – not for one, or two, or three, but for thousands, for tens of thousands, for hundreds of thousands, and during the episodes of all-out war, for half a million people, even a million, of its people: Muslim, Christian, lumad.

That is why Mindanao people – children and bishops and ulamas and businessmen and women and teachers and NGO leaders – that is why their reaction to congressional freezing of BBL hearings is visceral, pained.  Because they know what the costs are, they know that war is infinitely costlier than peace.

If speaking this truth labels me as lawyering for MILF, I do not mind.  Better that than to shut up because it is not popular, or sexy, to speak up at this time in defense of peace.  How oddly strange to be so viciously assailed for speaking up for peace.

People in Mindanao are also pained by the resurgence of our old biases and dualistic thinking of us versus them, expressed in the view that the only good Moro is a dead Moro, or that Muslims can never be trusted.  We must unlearn this dualism so we can move beyond our superficial analyses to a more discerning view of the peace process and our stakes in it.

Mamapasano has, indeed, set back the peace process but let us use this lull to clearly spell out the stakes, not only for Mindanaoans, but also for people from the north (Luzon) and the central islands (Visayas).  We cannot prosper as a nation with a house divided.  We cannot live the promise of life abundant while pockets of poverty and violence and squalor remain in Mindanao.

Let us issue primers on peace, let us hold fora such as this, let us write letters to the editor, let us lobby our congresspersons, let us reach out over and over again to Filipinos who are different from and unfamiliar to us.  Let us keep the flame of peace burning, to keep BBL at the top of the agenda, and to honor our fallen 67.

And, finally – what is to be done?

There is a well-loved Protestant hymn that goes: “Once to every man/woman and nation, comes the moment to decide …”  In the end this is a moment of truth for every Filipino: Christian, Bangsamoro, or lumad.  The President, P.Noy, has put it this way: Am I for peace? Or am I for war?

Shall we let our fears, insecurities, and falsehoods, rule us?  Can we afford to sit on the fence, let the wind blow where it will, and may the best or strongest side win?

Let us not sell ourselves short.  Not for nothing did we fight Spain, again and again, for three and a half centuries – to strike out at injustice, for the call to freedom.  Not for nothing did we fight the Americans – at the cost of becoming a howling wilderness – to defend our sovereignty and freedom.  Not for nothing did we fight against the darkness of totalitarian rule, which triumph inspired the world with our people power revolution 29 years ago yesterday – to regain our freedom and once again light our way to a future of justice, democracy, and peace.

I beg you, the young people here: as young Filipinos to whom the future rightly and irrevocably belongs, please do not sell yourselves short.  Insist on your say to how the future will take shape.  Insist that decisions that will determine your future not be made on the basis of emotions – or more accurately, emotionalism – not on the basis of allegations and surely not on the basis of prejudices and petrified perspectives that belong to the past and will not serve in your quest to manage and overcome the challenges of the future.  Please demand that, when the BBL is put to a vote in Congress, it will be the future of the children – Christian, Muslim, and lumad; equally for the child in Mamasapano as the child in Manila – that will take center stage and not the 2016 electoral prospects of politicians.

Today we are called to stand beside, not against, our Muslim brothers and sisters in their quest for justice and selfhood within a house united, not divided. The most vociferous voices call for a stop to the BBL hearings, call for a revamp of the peace infrastructure in midstream.  Perhaps the most charitable thing to say is that they do not know whereof they speak.

Let the blood shed at Mamasapano clear, and not blind, our vision in the quest for truth and justice.  Let the sturm und drang of these days be as a refiner’s fire to purify words of their dross.

And may the peacemakers be blessed.

Good afternoon.

Reposted: http://www.opapp.gov.ph/milf/news/keynote-address-sec-teresita-quintos-deles-mamasapano-na-pursuit-peace-truth-and-justice, Friday, Feb 27th, 2015

 

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DSWD forum highlights importance of legal adoption

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will conduct today an Adoption Forum with the theme, “Legal na Ampon Ako: Anak na Totoo,”  at the Makati Palace Hotel, Makati City.

The forum will tackle the importance of adoption and foster care in providing a family for the abandoned and neglected children in various centers managed by DSWD and non-government organizations (NGOs) nationwide.

Social workers and program implementers from the Local Government Units (LGUs), NGOs, and child-caring institutions will participate in the forum.

To discuss the process and significance of undergoing the legal adoption process, Atty. Gwendolyn Pimentel Gana, President of the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP), will expound on Republic Act (RA) 9253 or “An Act Requiring Certification of the DSWD to Declare a Child Legally Available for Adoption.”

On the other hand, DSWD National Capital Region Director Alicia S. Bonoan will discuss Republic Act 8552 or the “Domestic Adoption Act.”

With foreign adoption also a topic of interest as numerous foreign couples have signified their interest to adopt Filipino children, Gina Escalante of the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) will talk about RA 8043 or “The Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995”, to further guide the implementers in handling adoption of a child from a country other than your own through a legal process.

Foster care

Recognizing the importance of legal adoption, the forum will also highlight the Foster Care Service, another alternative parental care program of the Department that provides a family for abandoned and neglected children.

Under the Foster Care Service, children can stay with qualified families for a short period.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the goal of the Department is to de-institutionalize children.

“Much as we ensure that children are provided with care in our centers, a family setting is still the best situation for them. Hence, we call on loving and able families to share their homes to the needy children for adoption or foster care,” Sec. Soliman added.

To highlight the joys of adoption, adoptive parents will also share their journey towards legal adoption.

The adoption forum is the culminating activity of the Adoption Consciousness Week celebration, which is annually observed in February. ###

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Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary learns to fight for her rights

Couple Joel and Edna are happy to regain their love and respect for each other.

Couple Joel and Edna are happy to regain their love and respect for each other.

For a 26-year-old mother who started a family early, finally being able to afford a set of plastic table and chairs for their home is already a great accomplishment.

Naaawa na kasi ako sa mga anak ko na sa sahig na lang kumakain o nag-aaral. Gusto ko naman sana may maayos kaming mapagkainan at sila ay makapag-aral nang mas maayos (I pity my children because they just eat and study on the floor. I wanted to have a proper place where we can eat and where they can study well),” narrated Edna Villalobos, a partner beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the country’s flagship poverty reduction program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Edna related that when her family became a partner beneficiary of the program in 2012, she saved enough money to buy a plastic table and four chairs needed for their small home in Brgy. Halayhayin, Pililla, Rizal Province.

However, when she and her husband Joel got into a fight one day, she was hit with the table and the chairs. She later saw her investment in broken pieces, and felt pain over her frail body.

This was not the first time that Edna experienced physical violence from her husband. She endured similar abuses several years back, especially when her husband was drunk.

The end of violence

Since she only finished grade school, Edna admitted that her lack of education made her a passive victim of her husband’s violence. She just kept all these abuses to her herself and stayed silent to end the issue of domestic violence.

This was before she attended the Family Development Sessions (FDS) of the Pantawid Pamilya, where she learned so many things about her rights as a woman. The cycle of domestic violence ended when she was able to emancipate herself by asserting her rights.

The FDS is a venue where the beneficiaries of the program gather to discuss topics on effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development, and home management.

Through the FDS, parents are also informed of their rights as individuals, and their obligations to fulfill not only as husband and wife, but also as parents and community members.

The knowledge she acquired from attending the monthly FDS opened her eyes to her rights.

Natutunan ko sa FDS ang karapatan ko bilang isang babae (I learned from FDS about my rights as a woman),” Edna enthused.

On that day, when she saw her table and chairs broken, Edna became firm that the situation had to end.

She went to the police to finally file a report against her husband.

Upon learning about the couple’s situation, a social worker from the Local Social Welfare and Development Office (LSWDO) mediated and provided the family a series of counseling sessions, which positively changed their lives, especially Edna’s husband.

Through the counseling sessions, Edna realized that she should give her husband a second chance to keep their family intact. Hence, she did not pursue the case she earlier filed against him.

Peaceful home

Whereas before, Edna used to live in fear of her husband’s violent outbursts, she confirms that their home is now peaceful.

Joel’s behavior in treating his wife and children changed a lot.  He now shows concern over the future of their children. He is no longer involved in vices.

Dati, balewala lang sa kanya kung pumasok o hindi ang mga anak namin. Ngayon, siya pa ang nagpapaalala araw-araw na gisingin nang maaga ang mga bata para makapasok sa school. Lagi niya na ring sinasabi sa kanila na pumasok sila para may bago silang matutunan (Before, my husband did not care whether our children went to school or not. Now he is the one reminding them to wake up early and go to school so they will learn something new),” Edna narrated.

Both of them are now doing their best for their children. They also realized that creating a good family mainly lies in nurturing their children well. With the Pantawid Pamilya, Edna is positive that they are off to a good start. They are convinced that without the program, their children will never have the opportunity to attain a better life.

Puhunan namin ang pagpapalaki nang maayos sa aming mga anak para di sila maghirap ‘pag sila ay nagkaroon ng kanya-kanyang pamilya (We are investing in raising our children well, so they won’t experience hardships when they have their own families),” Edna added.

Dati, itong bahay namin ay plastik lang ang bubong. Kapag malakas ang hangin at umuulan, nababasa kami. Gamit ang ekstrang pera na naipon namin sa pagbebenta ng saging, nakabili kami ng yero para maayos ang bubong ng bahay namin. Ako mismo ang nag-ayos nitong bahay para hindi na kawawa ang mga anak namin (Our house used to have plastic roofing and when the wind and rains were strong, we got wet.  Using the extra money we saved from selling bananas, we were able to buy galvanized iron sheets to fix our roof. I fixed it myself so our children will no longer be miserable),” teary-eyed Joel recalled.

Sinisikap naming mapagtapos sila ng pag-aaral, kahit hanggang high school man lang para hindi na ganitong hirap ang maranasan nila  (We try our best to send our children to school, even until high school, so they will not experience the hardships we are going through),” Edna said.

For Edna, Pantawid Pamilya opened a lot of opportunities for their family. As she looks around her house and sees the wooden table and chairs her husband has built himself, she can never be more satisfied.

Edna’s plastic table and chairs may have been broken, but the wooden furniture inside the couple’s home now signifies their more concrete desire to strengthen their harmonious and peaceful relationship. It is now a perfect home to secure their children’s future. ###

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DSWD program lights up Lope de Vegan spirit

After the street lights were established, reports of crimes have lessened. The brgy. council of Gen. Luna  remarked on the significant improvement on their constituent’s' sense of security.

After the street lights were established, reports of crimes have lessened. The brgy. council of Gen. Luna remarked on the significant improvement on their constituent’s’ sense of security.

The nightfall in Barangay General Luna, the farthest barangay of Lope de Vega, has been the cause of terror in almost every home in the village.

Since the place is located in the most interior part of the Northern Samar town, distance from the poblacion area made it difficult to the locals to access basic social services. In order to reach the center of Lope de Vega, one must brave a risky boat ride for a maximum of two hours and 45 minutes or endure a perilous hike in the mountains for about four hours and fifteen minutes.

Most of the families in the community earn their living by abaca fiber making (kigi), copra, and through root crops and vegetable production but the poverty incidence of 87.7 percent is still high.

With only a population of 281 individuals, composing 69 families and 56 households, Gen. Luna could be considered one of the smallest communities in the municipality, where every resident knows everyone. But being the remotest barangay of the town, Gen. Luna has become vulnerable not only to poverty but as well as to conflict.

For almost 72 years, Nanay Warlita Agte would fear her family’s safety whenever dusk would cover the skies of Gen. Luna. For the small Lope de Vegan community, the night elicits the fear of the unknown, especially when there are no lamp posts to light their streets. In Brgy. Gen. Luna, it is not the children, but the grown-ups who are most frightened whenever the sun disappears. Their fear is anchored on something more real than things that go bump in the night.

According to Brgy. Captain Liberato Victoriano, crimes occurred more often in dark street corners of Gen. Luna. There was even a recorded incident where a man was beaten by an unrecognized group in the middle of the night. There were also rampant thefts of domesticated fowls. Worst of all, there was even murder.

This was confirmed by Warlita Agte, one of the residents in the community.

“Kun gab-i, nababaraka kami, kay diri namon naiimdan an mga nagkakasulod sa barangay, labi na gud kon nakabati kami hin storya nga may ginpatay na sa sapit nga barangay”. [We get scared whenever night fell, especially when we heard rumors of murder from the next barangay]”, she said, recalling the anxiety she and her family felt when they heard the news.

The disturbing increase in crime rate prompted the residents of Gen. Luna to choose the establishment of streetlights in their community as their sub-project through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS, otherwise known as the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that seeks to help alleviate poverty using the community-driven development (CDD) strategy.

Kalahi-CIDSS targets the coverage of 136 municipalities in Eastern Visayas including the town of Lope de Vega.

PAMANA is the government’s framework for peace and development spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). The framework follows a converged strategy of resource allocation and utilization, and aims to sustain all ongoing governance and development initiatives in communities affected by past or ongoing conflicts.

Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA works for the attainment of three major objectives: to reduce poverty, improve local governance, and empower communities by strengthening their capacities.

The installation of streetlights, which cost Php 317, 111.00, was the community’s choice to prevent and deter crime. Through the CDD approach, residents of Gen. Luna were empowered when they were given the opportunity to identify the most pressing needs in the community and come up with the solutions corresponding to the issue by choosing the type of sub-project that will answer the problem, as well as implement and maintain the said project.

Barangay Captain Victoriano reiterated that after the street lights were established, reports of crimes, such as theft and physical assault, were lessened. He remarked on the significant improvement on his constituent’s’ sense of security.

Yana mahangaturog na kami hin waray na kahadlok [Now we can sleep sound at night without fear]”, he said.

“Nagpapasalamat kami han DSWD ngan Kalahi-CIDSS ug PAMANA san paghatag sa amon sin higayon nga matagamtaman an masuna nga komunidad ngadto san mahimyang nga pamoroko. Diri la niyo ginpalaga an amon dalan, ginpalamrag gihap niyo an amon paglaum [We are very thankful to DSWD, Kalahi-CIDSS and PAMANA for giving us the chance to be included in the project, providing us a secured community that leads to our peaceful living. The program did not just light our streets. Kalahi-CIDSS and PAMANA also illuminated our hopes.]” he added.

Jenalyn Espelimbergo, a PAMANA volunteer and a mother expressed her gratitude toward the completion of the sub-project. She said she is no longer afraid to allow her daughter to visit a classmate in the next street during evening for school-related queries. “Yana diri na ako mahahadlok kun nagawas it akon mga anak kun gab-i [I no longer fear for the safety of my children whenever they go out of our house at night.]”

Aside from the restoration of peace and order in the community, Kalahi-CIDSS and PAMANA have also restored the power of women to participate in the community.

Today, housewives in Gen. Luna are no longer confined within their houses. Ninety percent of these women have become part of the decision-making process in the community where they are given the opportunity to speak their minds. The emergence of women’s involvement is a positive response, owing to the program’s initiative to mainstream gender equality.

The women of Gen. Luna have become enthusiastic about the expansion of Kalahi-CIDSS into a national community-driven development program, given the many opportunities they anticipate will be given to them.

“Tungod sa Kalahi-CIDSS ngan PAMANA, nagkamay-ada kami aram sa pagpadalagan san proyekto sa barangay. Masisisring namon nga bulig kami siton nga streetlight. Diri la ngay-an kami pan-balay la. Akos ngay-an namon an pagbag-o! [Through Kalahi-CIDSS and PAMANA, we learned how to implement projects in the barangay. We can say that we part of those streetlights. We thought we are just bound to be housewives. We can make a change!]”, Jenalyn proudly declared. #

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DSWD provides follow-through services for street families who joined Batangas camping

DSWD-NCR Director Ma. Alicia S. Bonoan briefs the media on updates on the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF).Also in the panel are DSWD Assistant Secretary Javier R. Jimenez (Middle) and NHTO Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson.

DSWD-NCR Director Ma. Alicia S. Bonoan briefs the media on updates on the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF).Also in the panel are DSWD Assistant Secretary Javier R. Jimenez (Middle) and NHTO Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson.

The 100 families who joined the camping activity in Nasugbu, Batangas  last month are continuously being provided with different support services to ensure that they will not return to the streets.

To date,  74 families are now living in safe houses through the provision of financial assistance and alternative family home. Their children are also enrolled under the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education.

Likewise,  three families availed of the Balik-Probinsya program and have gone back to their home provinces;  10 families were provided with Cash-for-Work program for a period of 10 days and are now staying with their relatives;  four families who are under the regular Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program have gone back to their homes;  five families were endorsed to the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) for further assessment; and two families are now temporarily staying at the Jose Fabella Center in Mandaluyong City for further case management.

The whereabouts of two families cannot be determined despite efforts of DSWD and the local government of Manila to locate them

DSWD, in coordination with local government units in the National Capital Region, has conducted a total of six camp-out activities from 2011 to 2015.

Activities during the camp are meant to inculcate family values, strengthen family unity, and enhance roles of parents to ensure that they can protect and take care of the well-being of their children. ###

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DSWD opens SMS and voice hotlines for Listahanan

National Household Targeting Office (NHTO) Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson shows the stickers posted in houses being assessed for the second round of Listahanan to prevent double listing.

National Household Targeting Office (NHTO) Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson shows the mobile cellular phone numbers that the public can text for their complaints or inquiries on Listahanan.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has set up voice and text hotlines to respond to queries and complaints regarding the upcoming implementation of the Listahanan 2nd round of assessment.

The Listahanan is an information management system that contains a comprehensive list of families in need of social protection programs and services. It is made available to national government agencies, local government units and other social protection stakeholders.

The 2nd round of assessment, which will cover 15.3 million households nationwide, will identify poor families who will be prioritized for anti-poverty programs and services. This activity will also enable the Department to track changes and developments in the lives of poor households who were identified in the previous assessment.

Currently, the DSWD Field Offices are screening and hiring field staff who will conduct the assessment. Interested applicants may submit their application personally or via official e-mail of the nearest DSWD Regional Office or the Social Welfare and Development Team office in the province. Details of the vacancies are posted on the DSWD website.

“To ensure that the information that we will generate from this nationwide activity will be of highest integrity, we need the public to participate and provide feedback on its implementation and output,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

The public is encouraged to send complaints and queries related, but not limited to, status of application for field staff positions, misconduct of Listahanan field staff, inclusion of non-poor and exclusion of poor in the list, and families/households not assessed during the assessment, among others.

The public may reach the Listahanan through voice hotline number (02) 717-3770 local 88878 for inquiries and 88876 for grievances.

Meanwhile, others may send their concerns to text hotline numbers 0918-9122813 by texting Listahanan<space>name<space>location<space>grievance/inquiry. They may also reach Listahanan through its email address ask.listahanan@dswd.gov.ph or its official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/listahanan.official.

Complaints and inquiries will be received by the National Project Management Office (NPMO) and forwarded to concerned regional offices for resolution. Regional hotline focal persons can check and monitor transactions through a text hotline system accessible through the internet.

Complainants will receive notification once their message has been received. They will be given updates on the status of complaints until these are resolved. ###

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