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We respect decision of Lumads on our proposal – Sec. Soliman

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman clarified that the construction of temporary transitional shelters for Lumads affected by the on-going armed conflict in Surigao del Sur was still a proposal that needed the concurrence of the affected families themselves and the local government.

“When I met with them, I told the community leaders to present this proposal to their constituents and get their opinion,” Sec. Soliman said.

“I have learned that they refused the proposal and we respect that. We will take the lead from the local government unit and from the community leaders on what else can be done to ensure that their daily  needs are met and their safety is not compromised,” Sec. Soliman continued.

The Secretary offered the proposal as an interim solution while peace is being worked out in the area. It was not meant to pull them out from their ancestral lands.

“The proposal for setting up temporary transitional shelters in Tandag where the governor would look for a place for these, is based on our experience of the Zamboanga crisis. Just like in Zamboanga, where hundreds of evacuees stayed at the city’s grandstand, staying in in the sports complex is a big humanitarian risk as it is not constructed for resettlement,” Sec. Soliman further explained.

“It came to my attention that many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were complaining about their deplorable condition in the evacuation centers, and I meant well when I proposed that they may transfer into safer and more comfortable place,” Sec. Soliman said.

Sec. Soliman said that she was concerned about the situation of the vulnerable sectors such as the elderly, the persons with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women, the sickly, and the children, whose health and safety are adversely affected by being exposed to diseases, harsh elements, and even abuse.

Sec. Soliman said that the Aquino administration puts premium to the safety and welfare of the IDPs.

She hoped that peace comes sooner so that the evacuees can go back to their normal lives and children can go to school. ###

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No truth to claims on hiding the homeless during APEC- DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that there is not truth to the apprehensions of some leftist groups that it will hide the homeless families during the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) next month.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that, in partnership with local government units, the DSWD continues to reach out to homeless families as part of efforts to protect them from harm and abuse which are rampant on the streets.

“It is their right to be protected and to be given services. This is why we continue to provide them with health, shelter, and educational assistance,” Sec. Soliman said.

The Secretary emphasized that this November, the nation will celebrate National Children’s Day with the theme “ Pamahalaan at Komunidad, Magka-Isa ! Pang-aabuso sa mga Bata, Wakasan Na!”, which is timely to generate awareness on child protection.

She announced that one activity to mark the event is the conduct of a “Talakayang Pambarangay” to be led by the Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC) and parent-leaders of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

The forum will serve as a venue to create awareness among parents on positive discipline of children and to teach them the different approaches to protect their children from various forms of abuse.

“Keeping children off the streets is one way to protect them from abuse and from becoming potential prey of syndicates. Homeless families especially street children are vulnerable and they become doubly vulnerable if they remain on the streets,” Sec. Soliman said.

Sec. Soliman cited that the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Families (MCCT-HSF) continues to be implemented to help street dwellers have dignified and safer homes.

The MCCT-HSF is an expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which provides a complete package of assistance to street families, including responsive shelter program, access to social services, and economic opportunities for the improvement of their living conditions.  It also extends house rental assistance of up to P4,000 per month for six months to one year.

To date, MCCT-HSF has 4,071 registered beneficiaries in NCR.

Sec. Soliman reiterated her assurance that homeless families will not be hid during the APEC but will participate in various nation-building activities for the National Children’s Month.  ###

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‘Zumbata on Child Protection’ kicks off Children’s Month Celebration

Some 1,000 children-participants from different  schools will present a “Children’s Call to Action to End All Forms of Abuse” through mass dancing  dubbed as, ‘Zumbata on Child Protection,’ which is the kick-off activity ushering in the National Children’s Month (NCM) celebration this November.

Zumbata will be held at the Skydome, SM North Edsa, Quezon City tomorrow, October 10. It is being led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and its attached agency, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC),  together with the National Youth Commission (NYC).

In partnership with SM Cares, “Zumbata” will likewise be held in other SM main malls nationwide.

Another highlight of tomorrow’s event is the launching of the Children’s Write to Rights advocacy containing the “One Million Lapis Campaign” and the announcement of the country’s participation to set a Guinness World Record on longest line of pencils.

The nation celebrates  NCM during October of every year through Presidential Proclamation 267 series of 1993.

Republic Act 10661, otherwise known as “National Children’s Month Act”,  moved the celebration to November to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989 and seeks to instill its significance in the Filipino consciousness.

This year’s theme, “Komunidad at Pamahalaan Magkaisa, Pang-aabuso sa Bata Wakasan na!”, highlights the protection of children against all forms of abuse and discrimination, and encourages stakeholders to promote as well as advocate protection of children at the family, school, community, and other settings.

Other activities during the month-long celebration are press conference on November 6; Launching of the Story Book on Children on November 12;   Showcase of Talents on Child Protection at SM Skydome with the performance of Asia’s Got Talent grand  winner El Gamma Penumbra; and, National Summit on Children (culminating event) on November 20, 2015.  ###

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Pantawid Pamilya mothers turn newbie entreps

Pantawid Pamilya mothers​,​ who are members of the Sustainable Livelihood Villahermoso​,​ repack meat which they will supply to the different day care centers in their town for the Supplementary Feeding Program.

Pantawid Pamilya mothers​,​ who are members of the Sustainable Livelihood Villahermoso​,​ repack meat which they will supply to the different day care centers in their town for the Supplementary Feeding Program.

Proving that they do not just rely on their monthly cash grants for their survival and daily subsistence, 60 mother-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from Vallehermoso in Negros Oriental have organized themselves and set-up their own meat processing business.

They were assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) by providing them skills training and seed capital of P600,000 to start their chosen enterprise.

Calling their group Sustainable Livelihood (SL) Vallehermoso, the newbie entrepreneurs are now the supplier of the meat requirements for the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) of day care centers in the town.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that providing livelihood assistance to Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries through the SLP would enable them to establish a source of income to complement their cash grants from the program.

These 60 mothers are among the 681,030 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries nationwide who have been provided by DSWD with skills training and capital assistance, from January 2011 to July 2015.

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides monthly cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for checkups, and attending the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS).

Starting up

To have their own legal identity, the association complied with and secured all the necessary documents and permits to operate, like accreditation from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, official receipt and accreditation from the local government.

The group also elected its officers to manage and operate the micro-enterprise. It also established its own office in the public market area provided by Vallehermoso Mayor Joniper Villegas.

As the association takes its initial steps to become a full-fledged business, it first ventured into bidding for the supply of meat for the SFP in Vallehermoso.

The group eventually won the bidding. The group members then immediately organized themselves into different committees to take charge of stocking, purchasing, repacking, packaging, labeling, and delivery.

The demand is high because the association has to supply 350 kilos of chicken and 275 kilos of pork every week.

To also ensure that all the members are well prepared in their first business venture, they underwent training on meat processing as well as on values formation, organizational development, and financial management.

Aduna gyud kausaban kung itandi nimu sa una. Kay sauna nga wala pa ang Pantawid Pamilya ug SLP pigado jud kaayu, karun makapadayon jud ug eskwela akung mga bata gani karun akung kamagulangan graduating na sa college, ang ikaduha naku nga anak kay grade 8 ug ikatulo nga bata kay grade 6 na (There is really a change in our situation now compared before. Life is better now with my children all in school. In fact, my eldest is a graduating student in college, my second child is in grade 8, and my third child is in grade 6),” shared Susana Yee, President of  SL Vallehermoso.

Sa pagkakarun, ang among organisasyon kay makahalin na ug P 12,000.00 matag semana ug dako gyud ni nga tabang sa among mga pamilya (Currently, our organization earns P12,000 per week which is a great help to our families),” added Susana.

They also know how to value their hard-earned money by depositing these in a local bank.

Now, the association has expanded into cassava production and money lending.

Furthermore, the organization has put up a sari-sari store.

Aside from profit-sharing, members who raise hogs can sell these to the association giving them an additional earning of P1,500 per hog.

The group also provides non-Pantawid Pamilya mothers and other women some opportunities to earn by tapping them to help in the meat production process and in manning the other livelihood projects.

Sec. Soliman said that the positive changes in the lives of the beneficiaries indicate that government programs are indeed being felt.

“If the gains of Pantawid Pamilya, SLP, and other government programs will be sustained, inclusive growth will become a reality,” Sec. Soliman concluded. ###

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‘Yolanda’ operations no ‘epic failure’

THIS REFERS to Gil Cabacungan’s news report titled, “COA: DSWD relief, unused cash donations, epic failure” (Front Page, 9/13/15).

We appreciate that the article made mention of the audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) as well as of the response of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

However, the title of the article and some of the phrases used therein sounded conclusive of the DSWD as an “epic failure” during the “Yolanda” disaster operations, according to the COA. The article even attributed the failure to “abysmal management,” and stated that “The Commission on Audit has cited total and spectacular failure on the job of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.”

Also, as of Sept. 14, 2015, only 16.80 percent of Yolanda cash donations were left. However, these have been already allocated for projects such as supplementary feeding and tourism development.

Although the “shortfalls” constitute a small percentage of the whole, we take them seriously. But, to be sure, it is unfair and inaccurate to describe them as a “total and spectacular failure.”

Please note, too, that the observations made by the COA in the audit report are not conclusive statements confirming that irregularities had been actually committed. These were made as part of the government routine to provide a check-and-balance mechanism and enhance operations.

Furthermore, the COA report never claimed that relief goods were rotting. The COA is very careful with its word choice because it knows that its audit observations are cited by the media. We hope that the Inquirer will not attribute to the COA statements it never makes in its report. To do so would be to distort the truth.

We would also like to clarify that Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman never blamed anyone; she merely clarified the observations made by the commission.

The allegations and misconceptions do not give justice and recognition to the DSWD staff and volunteers who toiled long hours, risked life and limb—or were in fact injured—and put the needs of the survivors over and above their own safety during the disaster relief operations.

We hope that the Inquirer—as a newspaper that proclaims integrity as one of its core values—will uphold fair and balanced journalism, and when examining issues, look at them with unbiased eyes.

ssistant Secretary and Spokesperson,
Department of Social Welfare and Development

We stand corrected. The COA report didn’t use the phrase “epic failure” which was printed between quotation marks as though it had. Our apology for our “epic failure.”—Ed.

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Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer, LGU partner champion community-driven development during UN General Assembly

Photo caption: Elsie Lomong-oy and Mayor Pelagio Tecson represented the Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteers and the program's partner local chief executives, respectively, during the recently-concluded UN General Assembly.

Elsie Lomong-oy and Mayor Pelagio Tecson represented the Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteers and the program’s partner local chief executives, respectively, during the recently-concluded UN General Assembly.

MANILA – Two champions of community-driven development (CDD) represented the Philippines during the recently-concluded UN General Assembly, held last September 25-27, 2015.

Elsie Lomong-oy, an Igorot-Aplay senior citizen from Besao, Mountain Province and Pelagio Tecson, the mayor of Tanauan, Leyte shared their experiences in participating in the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the CDD program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during the side meeting on CDD during the UN General Assembly.

Kalahi-CIDSS served as the co-host of the side meeting, which launched the movement for community-led development, alongside the Hunger Project and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the latter of which is a partner agency of the program since 2011.

The activity sought to show that the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which was launched during the UN General Assembly, will only be achieved if communities are empowered to take charge of their own development.

Elsie Lomong-oy’s testimonial

Lomong-oy shared that people in her town grew up thinking that being poor was a normal condition. She shared that in Kalahi-CIDSS, things changed, not just because Besao was able to get 49 projects from the program, but more importantly, because it directly involved the citizens in the planning, choosing implementation, and the operation and maintenance of their chosen projects. Lomong-oy was one of the volunteers in their municipality who worked on the program to help realize the fulfillment of their long-needed community projects such as health centers, foot paths, and irrigation systems.

She said, “We always say that in a CDD approach, where you put the citizens at the front seat, you can never lose”.

She also said that the program had a direct role in people’s trust in the government, unlike in the past when they barely felt it working because of the number of government projects in their village that came and went with little impact to the residents.

She said, “Today, government is not just an abstract idea. I can feel the government. I know my government is listening to the people… We now have a government that is willing to open its doors to us, ordinary citizens…in a way that is participatory and transparent”.

She continued, “Development is not just the business of elected officials. It is everyone’s lookout”.

She told the story of how Besao, Mountain Province, Lomong-oy’s hometown, recently mobilized the longest human chain in the history of the municipality and of Kalahi-CIDSS, in which 700 people from all walks of life worked together to haul sand from a river to the project site for the construction of a school building, also through the program. She said that they were able to do this because they now see that they have the power to trigger change in their village.

She ended her testimonial by saying, “I have made it my personal crusade to tell our story. I want our national government to heed our call to make governance more participatory by allowing citizens the chance to implement projects. We have demonstrated that it can be done in Besao. We are not special. We are ordinary people that simply used our power to change how we decide and act. I think that this should be the roadmap for the future so we can finally end hunger, poverty and powerlessness.”

Mayor Tecson’s testimonial

Mayor Tecson, on the other hand, shared how the CDD approach helped in the recovery of their town after Yolanda, said to be the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the world.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Tanauan was left with over 1,300 people dead and had over P500 million damage in public infrastructure and P135 million in agriculture due to the storm surge and strong winds. Despite being one of the most severely hit by Typhoon Yolanda, the town was able to quickly begin its rehabilitation work following the disaster.

In an interview with the UN radio after the CDD assembly, Mayor Tecson said, “Two thousand four hundred volunteers trained in CDD mobilized to help Tanauan after Yolanda. There is an innate capacity in everyone. We just need to tap into that. That is what empowerment is about.”###

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DSWD proposes to build core shelters for affected families of Surigao del Sur incident

DSWD Sec. Soliman engages an evacuee of the Surigao del Sur incident during her recent visit to the evacuation center where she met with local officials and community leaders. Also in photo is DSWD-CARAGA DIrector Minda Brigoli (center​ in red vest).

DSWD Sec. Soliman engages an evacuee of the Surigao del Sur incident during her recent visit to the evacuation center where she met with local officials and community leaders. Also in photo is DSWD-CARAGA Director Minda Brigoli (center​ in red vest​).

In a recent visit to the evacuees of the civil unrest in Surigao del Sur, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that she will explore, in partnership with the Provincial Local Government Unit (LGU), the possibility of  providing core shelters for the displaced families.

“Makikipag-ugnayan kami kay Governor Johnny Pimentel para sa lokasyon kung saan puwedeng makapagpatayo ng mga permanenteng pabahay paras sa inyo upang maging mas komportable kayo (We will coordinate with Governor Johnny Pimentel for a location where we can build core shelters for you, so that you will have better living conditions),” Sec. Soliman told community leaders representing the internally-displaced families (IDPs) during a meeting.

Ug mosugot kamo, himuan kamo ug panimalay worth P30,000 – P50,000, kung asa aduna gayud kamo’y kaugalingon nga CR ug linya sa tubig, dili parehas dinhi sa inyong kahimtang (You will be provided with your own houses worth P30,000 – P50,000, wherein you will have your own CR with water lines, more comfortable than your conditions here),” Sec. Soliman added.

With the proposal,  the provincial LGU shall find a resettlement site while DSWD shall forge a partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for the construction of  the shelter units. DSWD shall also hire the IDPs, through cash for work, in the construction of their respective core houses.

After meeting the IDPs and the local officials, the Secretary went around the evacuation site to check the condition of the evacuees and the relief operations.

As of October 5, a total of 822 families or 4,191 persons have been displaced by the incident where 814 families or 3,822 persons are staying at the three evacuation centers opened and managed by LGUs. The evacuees come from the towns of San Miguel, Tago, Marihatag, San Agustin, and Lianga.

To date, a total of P7,174,893.88 worth of relief assistance have been provided to the affected families from the combined resources of the DSWD with P2,402,257.88, LGUs with P1,121,900, non-government organizations with P1,546,000, and from other sources with P2,104,736.

The assistance from DSWD comprised of  2,824 family food packs, non-food items, Nutri-cereals, and medical and  burial assistance.  Psycho-social processing activities were also held for the IDPs such as art and play therapy for the children.

Members of the DSWD-CARAGA disaster teams continue to assist LGUs in managing the evacuation centers and in identifying the other needs of the evacuees. ###

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DSWD’s Near Poor Forum wins Best Statistical Activity Award

The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) advocacy forum dubbed as​, People at the Edge: Defining the Near Poor of the Philippines​, was awarded as Best Statistical Information Dissemination Activity in the 25th National Statistics Month (NSM) Awards.

This is the first recognition received by the Department under the NSM awards.

NSM Awards is an activity incorporated in the annual NSM Celebration. It recognizes the efforts of government agencies, local government units, academic institution, media and the private sector in promoting and instilling appreciation for statistics through activities they conduct in support of the NSM.

The awarding was held during the Opening Ceremony of the 26th NSM at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City on October 1, 2015.

I​nitiative to address ​near-​poor ​challenge

The Department’s advocacy forum, which was conducted on​ October 7, 2014, featured a presentation by Dr. Vicente Paqueo, Asian Development Bank (ADB) consultant and author of the near poor study entitled​, “Analysis of the Near Poor Challenge and Strategy Development Ideas”. 

He presented the results of his study to a panel of experts in the field of social statistics and economics, who included Dr. Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Stations, Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda of Pulse Asia​, and Mr. Romeo Recide of the Philippine Statistical Authority, to gather inputs, comments and support on the crafting of a near poor policy.

The Department initiated this study on the near poor to enable us to come up with a policy that will allow us to identify them and provide the necessary assistance to keep them from becoming poor,”said DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.

The study defines the near poor as non-poor families who have a high probability of  becoming poor when faced with shocks and disasters.

The comments and suggestions by the participants and panelists were integrated into the draft joint resolution between the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRC) and National Economic and Development Authority-Social Development Committee (NEDA-SDC),​ adopting the near poor definition of households within the 10% above the total poverty threshold. The resolution also specifies the DSWD’s Listahanan as the source of names and statistics on near poor.  ###

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