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Adoptive couple becomes advocates of legal adoption

Sec. Soliman (2nd from right)  poses with the Sugcang couple after Dennis shared their story as adoptive couple to DSWD employees during their flag ceremony.

Sec. Soliman (2nd from right) poses with the Sugcang couple.

On their fifth year of marriage, Michael Dennis and Cecil Sucgang of Paranaque City were faced by their inability to conceive a child.

Dennis was diagnosed with “azoospermia”, a medical condition of a man not having any measurable level of sperm.

The diagnosis came as quite a shock to everyone, especially to Dennis, who expected to have a perfect family with children.

The couple learned to overcome the pain by supporting each other, as well as leaning on the support of their respective families and relatives.

Dennis admitted that at first he has negative feelings about adoption.

“I never thought that I will undergo the adoption process. I feel ashamed not having a child,” he confessed before officials and employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during the flag raising ceremony at the Central Office on Monday.

Thinking and feeling that there was something lacking in their married life, they gradually accepted the reality and considered adoption to be the logical choice for them.

In September 2009, the couple was assessed by the social worker as capable of adopting a child. They were matched to their preferred female child whom they named Cyrille.

Dennis was working in Singapore when he heard the  good news that they were finally matched with a child. He cried when he first saw the picture of baby Cyrille sent by his wife.

“That was the most beautiful picture I saw,” Dennis narrated.

Excited to be with Cyrille,  Dennis did not finish his work contract in Singapore and flew home to the Philippines.

“When I first met my five-month old child at the airport, I was very happy, and it entirely changed my negative feelings about adoption,” Dennis continued.

On June 22, 2011, the court issued the Certificate of Finality of their adoption.

Today, the couple is very active in the adoption support group in the National Capital Region.  They are often invited to give inspirational talks to prospective adoptive parents.

Cyrille is now in school, a very pretty and smart child.

The couple decided it is already the right time for them to have another child, this time a baby boy who needs a caring and loving family. They are now preparing for their second adoption.

“In our own little ways, we can bring positive change to other people’s lives, especially to abandoned children who need the love and care of a family,” Dennis enthused

Legal Adoption

Adoption is a socio-legal process of providing a permanent family to a child whose parents have voluntarily or involuntarily relinquished parental authority over the child.

Adoption is for children who cannot be reared by their biological parents and who need and can benefit from new and permanent family ties.

It provides the same mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and their biological parents. It comprises of social work and other professional services that are required in the placement of children in adoptive families.

In 2010, a year after Republic  Act 9523  otherwise known as “An Act Requiring Certification of the DSWD to Declare a Child Legally Available for Adoption as a Prerequisite for Adoption Proceedings” was enacted, DSWD’s Adoption Resource and Referral Office (ARRO) received numerous applications from prospective adoptive parents.

From 2010 to the first semester of 2014, DSWD facilitated the processing of domestic adoption cases leading to the permanent placement of 414 children  for adoption. ###

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One year after: Zamboanga City rises from the ashes of armed of conflict

(Left Photo) The Buggoc Transitory Site is now a community of 54 families. (Right Photo) Fishermen from Buggoc Transitory Site are seen fixing their boats, ready to go out to sea and resume their livelihood.

(Left Photo) The Buggoc Transitory Site is now a community of 54 families. (Right Photo) Fishermen from Buggoc Transitory Site are seen fixing their boats, ready to go out to sea and resume their livelihood.

Zamboanga City – One year after the armed conflict between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Misuari faction here, new communities have risen in various areas established by the government as transitional and permanent resettlement sites for families who lost their homes.

In Barangay Tulungatong, a transitional site, for instance, where 412 families have already transferred, is now a busy community. Around 25 bunkhouses  with 300 rooms  were built here by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and partners.

Internally displaced Sama-Badjaos who used to occupy the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard are now in transitional and permanent shelters, re-establishing their community.

Now, the area is free from family-evacuees and the local government unit (LGU) is cleaning up the area.

Secretary Dinky Soliman talks to one of the residents at Buggoc Transitory Site.

Secretary Dinky Soliman talks to one of the residents at Buggoc Transitory Site.

In Buggoc, 54 families have recently transferred to the single-detached transitional houses.  More families are expected to transfer upon completion of some 163 units by October 2014.

Rogelio Olbido’s family was among the first to call the shelter in the area, their new home.

Rogelio, 72, said “Nasa ligtas na bahay na po kami (We are now in a safe house).”

DSWD said that around 1,906 families have transferred to transitional shelters/bunkhouses which are now serving as temporary homes to the displaced families while waiting for their permanent houses.

Rising from the ravages of conflict, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have transformed these empty sites into a thriving community, showcasing rows of homes with neat, small gardens planted with vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants; sari-sari stores, children playing, families doing their laundry or going about their household chores, and neighbors chatting animatedly.

With the help of the government and partner humanitarian organizations, the survivors of the siege have found renewed hope in these transitional sites.

Some permanent shelters have already been constructed, such as the Martha Permanent Shelter, now with 44 families

Teresa Maru, shared “Masaya na ang buhay naming dito sa Martha shelter (We are happy here at the Martha permanent shelter).”

This was affirmed by Lilia Fuentebella, 74. “Salamat sa pabahay na ito na tulong ng gobyerno.  Nabago po ang buhay namin (Thanks to this housing provided by government, our lives have changed).”

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that all displaced families, especially those still living in the Zamboanga Grandstand, will be transferred to safer homes by year end.

“The goal is to close all evacuation centers and move all families to shelters. Our target is that by December 15, the Grandstand will be empty as the families there will have already been given temporary or permanent shelters,” she pointed out.

The Secretary however calls for a ” real durable solution” to the problem.

“While we have shelter as the temporary answer to the problem of internal displacement, the real durable solution to all this is peace in Zamboanga and in the country,” Sec. Soliman explained.

Response

The course of the armed conflict affected a total of 23,794 families in 14 barangays such as Arena Blanco, Cabatangan, Calarian, Canelar, Kasanyangan, Mampang, Mariki, Rio Hondo, San Roque, Sta. Barbara, Sta Catalina, Talon-Talon, and Zone IV.

Massive destruction was recorded in eight out of the 14 barangays, which were the location of the actual conflict.

These were Arena Blanco, Kasanyangan, Mampang, Mariki, Rio Hondo, Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Talon-Talon.

More than 20,000 families were displaced due to the prolonged fighting which left 10,160 houses totally destroyed.  The massive destruction of properties and businesses created a setback in the entire socioeconomic status of the Zamboangueños.

As soon as the armed conflict ensued,  the local government led by Mayor Beng Climaco and the national government wasted no time in responding to the urgent needs of the affected families.

The conduct of DSWD's supplementary feeding program continues in all Transitory Sites  and evacuation centers to ensure that the children are given the needed nutritional support.

The conduct of DSWD’s supplementary feeding program continues in all Transitory Sites and evacuation centers to ensure that the children are given the needed nutritional support.

Evacuation centers were immediately established to accommodate the displaced families. DSWD provided food assistance to the most vulnerable displaced families, including psycho-social interventions.

Based on the record, DSWD provided a total of 553,120 food packs to evacuees which amounted to more than P264 million.

Likewise, the Department provided non-food items such as mats, malong, hygiene kits which cost P7,696,558.50

Recognizing the needs of the IDPs for livelihood, DSWD also implemented the cash-for-work program which benefited 466 individuals amounting to P3.8 million for two-months-worth of work.

In partnership with DSWD, the World Food Programme (WFP) also provided food-for-work, distributing to 18,000 IDPs a total of 18,000 bags of rice to amounting to P22.5 million.

To address the psycho-social needs of the evacuees especially the children, DSWD conducted counseling, and art and play therapy sessions. Stress debriefing was also conducted to IDPs in evacuation centers.

Road to recovery

With “Build Back Better Zamboanga” as the working goal, the national government, the LGU, and civil society organizations continued to converge their services to achieve this.

Sec. Soliman said that the way to recovery is to enable the IDPs to regain their productive capacity.

Providing an opportunity to earn is also a key component towards rebuilding the IDP’s lives, the Department strengthened its livelihood program for the affected families.

Not far away from the Buggoc Transitory shelter where the Sama-Badjaos have transferred,  they are now seen fixing things in their boats ready to go out into the sea to catch fish.

Likewise, DSWD provided 2,483 families with livelihood assistance amounting to P20,173,880 to start their own sources of livelihood.

Complementing the livelihood assistance are DSWD’s other programs and services for the IDPs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program, Supplementary Feeding Program, and Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, among others.

Sec. Soliman is confident that with the continued convergence of services, building back a better Zamboanga is not far behind, prompting her to express her dream for the city.

“My vision for the city is the Vinta – colorful and sailing away to a brighter future in Zamboanga.” ###

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200,000 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries to undergo financial literacy trainings

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, and BPI Globe BanKo President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Rubio seal their partnership project “BanKo para sa Pangarap Ko,” through the signing of the memorandum of agreement.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, and BPI Globe BanKo President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Rubio seal their partnership project “BanKo para sa Pangarap Ko,” through the signing of the memorandum of agreement.

By year end, some 200,000 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program families are expected to benefit from the series of financial literacy trainings being conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and BPI Globe BanKo (BanKO).

This is one of the agreements in the memorandum between DSWD and BanKO in their partnership project entitled “BanKo para sa Pangarap Ko” which started in May this year.

Through the financial literacy trainings, Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries will learn how to manage their finances and enable them to come up with better financial decisions.

From May to July, SLP has facilitated some 2,793 financial literacy sessions, with BanKO representatives serving as subject-matter experts, to Pantawid Pamilya  families in Payatas, Quezon City; Tuburan, Cebu; Tacloban, Leyte; Culion, Palawan; and Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.

The project also encourages them to open savings accounts with an initial deposit of P50.

As of August, the partnership has benefited 70,000 Pantawid Pamilya families opening their own savings accounts. Collectively, the new account holders have reached a total of P9.8M in transaction value, with at least a collective savings of P8.4M from May to July of this year.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman emphasized that this partnership with BanKO is very timely since poor families need a financial instrument for a sustained growth.

“Bigyan natin sila ng konting puhunan  (Let us provide them with some financial capital),” she asserted.

“Hayaan natin silang maging instrumento ng pag-unlad at masabi din nila na kaya nila ang pagbabago (Let us allow them to become instruments of development, and eventually, they will be able to say that they can bring about positive change in their lives),” the Secretary stated.

For his part, BanKO President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Rubio expressed, “Supporting [DSWD's] program helps us achieve our mission.”

Rubio shared that BanKO envisions to provide every Filipino with a bank account. The bank account, he shared, is, “Para sa pangarap ng bawat  Filipino (For the dream of every Filipino).”

Within the next five to six years, BanKO also endeavors to eradicate “5-6”, an underground lending scheme where lenders take advantage of borrowers with high interest rates and unfair financial practices.

Rubio also shared that BanKO aims for the accessibility of financial services in the country.

Through BanKO partner outlets, transaction for financial services should be within ten minutes.

DSWD looks forward to the unrelenting support of BanKO and other partner institutions in order to achieve a common dream for a financially literate and self-sufficient Filipino.

“We have proven once again that [we can achieve] partnership, synergy, and convergence between the public and private sectors for inclusive growth,” shared Sec. Soliman.

Aside from trainings on financial literacy, SLP also organizes basic business management, facilitates employment, and technical and vocational skills in the context of the participant communities.

These serve as pathways to community enterprises and employment opportunities that are disaster-resilient, market-driven, and resource-based to ensure their sustainability and reinforce self-sufficiency among poor families. ###

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P700-M ‘Yolanda’ donations disbursed, fully accounted for – DSWD

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clarified today that it has already fully disbursed the P779,486,400.15 local and foreign cash donations it has received in December 2013 and that these are fully accounted for.

The clarification came after news reports mentioned that an audit report of Typhoon Yolanda relief operations cited that DSWD has yet to spend the P782 million cash donations it received from local and foreign donors.

“At the time the audit was conducted, we were still doing relief operations and was still using the Department’s existing funds and ready supplies, so much of the cash donations would really not have been really touched yet,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman clarified, adding that the cash donations were really intended for the implementation of rehabilitation efforts based on proposals of affected local government units (LGU).

She also noted, “The audit report only covered until December 2013, just a month after ‘Yolanda’. So understandably, the utilization [of the donations] will still be low.”

The Department explained that the cash donations were used based on approved Work and Financial Plan (WFP).

According to the WFP, the amount was used for the Core Shelter Assistance Program, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) where families with totally damaged houses received P30,000 each and those with partially damaged houses got P10,000, Supplemental Feeding Program, and livelihood assistance.

As of August 28, the DSWD has received a total of P1,121,890,457.41 local and foreign cash donations. Some 90% of this has already been disbursed including the more than P700 million received in 2013.

A portion of the balance of P117 million has already been allocated for ESA, cash-for-work in support for ESA, provision of pedicabs, warehouse rentals, and administrative expenses.

The Department is still also for project proposals of typhoon-affected LGUs for part of the remaining balance in the donations.

“We cannot easily transfer funds to LGUs without a clear proposal on how the budget will be used,” Sec. Soliman said.

DSWD likewise reiterated that the spoilage of relief goods from Cebu City and in Isabel, Leyte, also mentioned in the report, was because the goods got wet while in transit at sea.

These were sorted out by the Department, and those found to be unfit for human consumption were reported to COA and were subsequently disposed of.

Sec. Soliman assured that those accountable of the incident will be held liable.

The Secretary also guaranteed all donors that their donations are fully accounted for and will go to the rightful beneficiaries. ###

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‘Pablo’ survivor bounces back through organic farming

 Among the new challenges Danilo takes on is to motivate and inspire his members to persevere in their new endeavor.

Among the new challenges Danilo takes on is to motivate and inspire his members to persevere in their new endeavor.

Montevista, Compostela Valley –Danilo E. Villarojo, 59, was raised by a coconut farmer and grew up to be one himself.

Danilo tended a two-hectare lot in BarangayTapia, which he inherited from his father.

For most of his life, Danilo grew, harvested, and sold coconuts for a living, skills he also learned and mastered from his father.

He proudly shared that through hard work and perseverance as a coconut farmer, he was able to send his two children to school, both of whom became scholars and finished with undergraduate degrees in Education.

‘Pablo’ the antagonist

In December 2012, Typhoon Pablo struck, wiping away his humble coconut plantation. The foundation of his house stood as it was built on concrete, but the second floor, made from nipa,was washed away as well.

He was left with nothing but remnants of what was once the source of food for his family.

Though affected by the typhoon, Danilo was grateful that his entire family survived the calamity. The family managed with the little savings that they had.

A small company eventually approached him to buy his fallen coconut trees.

“At least kumita pa rin (At least I still earned),” he said. That was the last of his family’s livelihood.

Danilo continued working as a farmer and took several small jobs around the community, but they did not last long either.

Climax of life anew

In early 2014, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) enjoined a group of farmers from nearby villages  in Compostela Valley to participate in its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The group of 120 members was formed from a mix of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program families and internally displaced survivors of ‘Pablo’.

The farmers were to be trained on organic farming, a technology foreign to them.

Through SLP, the ACES Natural Farming Institute (ACES) in Panabo, Davao would train them in organic farming as a sustainable community livelihood.

Danilo and his wife, Mila, took part in it.

Initially, Danilo was skeptical. He had no knowledge of organic farming, and more importantly, he had no more resources to invest. He felt too old to learn a new skill, let alone start a completely different livelihood.

He took on the challenge anyway. There was nothing left to lose, he felt.

An emerging leading man

The group called themselves the Tapia Organic Farmers Association (TOFA).

Soon after, they elected Danilo as their President, a role he was reluctant to accept.

“Iba-ibang ugali yan. Mahigit isandaan sila. Kailangan lahat ‘yan pakikisamahan mo (They all have different attitudes. There are more than one hundred of them.

You need to get along with everyone),” he said.

Upon serious discernment, he took on the lead role.

The production sequence

From April to May 2014, Danilo and the rest of the members of TOFA trained extensively on organic farming.

ACES taught them about appropriate methods, tools, and natural and biological materials that can be found within a farm. Danilo and his members learned about raising organic hogs, chickens, red tilapia, and vegetables such as camote and Chinese cabbages.

DSWD shouldered their training expenses and equipment, amounting to P10,000 per trainee. ACES also provided a counterpart of common service facilities and farming equipment. The local government of Montevista provided land for a communal organic farm, for their utility for the next 10 years.

ACES also agreed to purchase the first harvest of TOFA based on prices that the group would set. This would teach them to prepare marketing their products and train them on interacting with buyers.

“Sabi ko sa mga kasama ko na wala na kaming ginastos kaya kailangan pagsikapan namin ito . Kami rin ang makikinabang  (I told my fellow farmers that we didn’t spend anything that is why we have to work hard for. It will benefit us),” Danilo explained.

Included in their training was developing and preparing the land for their communal farm. From a barren land emerged their Sustainable Time-tested Agricultural Resource (STAR)  farm, ready for four ponds of 9,000 red tilapia fingerlings, chicken pens good for 500 hens, six hogs, and fertile soil for vegetables.

Premiering the community harvest

On August 30, Danilo and his members took part in a multi-stakeholder ceremony and first harvest.

On behalf of TOFA, Danilo received a check as payment for five hogs, weighing an average of 68 kg, which were sold at P120 per kilo, and a total of 69 kg of harvested red tilapia, they sold at P100 per kilo.

Danilo himself also caught the first hog for weighing. Although it was a feat for him, his members cheered him on for support.

Producing a sequel

While Danilo admits that he still has much to learn, he is willing to hone his new craft. This is the beginning of a promising future not just for Danilo but for the community he is now shepherding. He sees a purpose bigger than himself.

Through their new communal organic farm, a budding sustainable livelihood for the community, Danilo and the rest of the TOFA members can altogether write the success stories of their lives.

“Kaya pala namin ang pagbabago basta may umaalalay sa amin sa gobyerno  ( We can initiate positive change in our lives as long as there is a government that is ready to assist us),” Danilo ended.

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DSWD to transfer all Zambo siege survivors to safer homes by December

(Left Photo) DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman talks to a resident in one of the newly-constructed permanent shelters in Martha, Zamboanga City.  A total of 44 internally-displaced families are now occupying houses in Martha permanent shelter. (Right Photo) Empty Cawa-cawa Blvd. No more tents! Families have moved to transitional shelters. Cleaning up ongoing.

(Left Photo) DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman talks to a resident in one of the newly-constructed permanent shelters in Martha, Zamboanga City. A total of 44 internally-displaced families are now occupying houses in Martha permanent shelter. (Right Photo) Empty Cawa-cawa Blvd. No more tents! Families have moved to transitional shelters. Cleaning up ongoing.

Zamboanga City – One year after this city suffered from the loss of lives, property, and the displacement of families as a result of the armed conflict between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)-Misuari faction, the displaced families are well on their way to recovery.

This is according to Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary (DSWD) Corazon Juliano-Soliman, who reported in a press conference here yesterday that the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard is already free of family-evacuees as of September 5.

She said that the family-evacuees at the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard were among the 1,906 families or 10,402 evacuees from evacuation centers who were already transferred to transitional shelters.

These transitional shelters are located in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex (JFEMSC), Tulungatung, Taluksangay, Rio Hondo, Philippine Tuberculosis Society Inc. in Upper Calarian, Mampang, Sta. Catalina (Silsilah, Paniran), and Buggoc.

On the other hand, a total of 44 families are now living at the Martha Permanent Resettlement site.

“We are targeting that all families will be transferred to transitional shelters by yearend with the 2,304 remaining families in the Grandstand to be moved to safer homes by December 15,” Sec. Soliman said.

Sec. Soliman together with Mayor Beng Climaco, and Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Alex Pama visited the transitional sites and interacted with the families.

The families expressed their gratitude to Sec. Soliman during her visit.

“Nasa ligtas na bahay na po kami (We are now in a safe house),” exulted Rogelio Olbido, 72, with four children, who was transferred to Buggoc Transitory Site.

“Masaya na ang buhay namin dito sa Martha permanent shelter (We are happy here at Martha permanent shelter),” Teresa Maru, 33, with two kids, affirmed.

This was echoed by Lilia Fuentebella, 74, also residing at Martha Permanent Shelter.

“Salamat sa pabahay na tulong ng gobyerno. Nabago po buhay namin (Thanks to the housing provided by the government, our lives have changed),” she said.

Livelihood support

To support the households start their own livelihood businesses, the DSWD provided P9.7 million capital seed fund to some 970 families at P10,000 each.

From September to October this year, the DSWD and the local government unit will be conducting a series of entrepreneurial activities for the families at the transitional sites.

These include handsewing of baby items, vocational training of persons with disabilities, and nail care seminar, among others.

Parent Education Congress will also be held to coincide with the Family Week celebration this month, as well as Children’s Congress in October, and Family Development Sessions (FDS).

DSWD will also continue to implement Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) in the sites to ensure the nutritional well-being of the children.

To date, a total of P363.9 million pesos worth of assistance have been provided to the the displaced families from the combined resources of the DSWD and partner-local and international organizations.

The assistance include food packs; non-food items, such as mats, malong and hygiene kits; Cash and Food for Work; financial; educational; house rental for 18 families; transportation allowance for those who availed of the Balik-Probinsya and Balik Barangay programs; shelter assistance; and construction of transitional shelters. ###

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Love blooms tighter for childless foster parents

Sec. Soliman greets Joy and thanks her for sharing her positive story as foster parent...

Sec. Soliman greets Joy and thanks her for sharing her positive story as foster parent.

Married for nine years, starting a family proved difficult for Rico and Jocelyn Manalang of Barangay Wawa, Taguig City,  as they were  unable to have a child despite undergoing fertility work-ups.

At  the age of  48 and 45, respectively, they believed that God had a better plan for them and decided to share their home to a child through Foster Care.

Foster Care is part of the alternative parental care program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development  (DSWD) wherein an abandoned or neglected child is given to the temporary care of licensed foster parents.

It is temporary in nature and can be a short-term (minimum of three months) or long-term foster placement (maximum  of seven years).  The Foster care program’s main goal is to provide temporary family care to a child until his/her return to biological family or prepare him/her for permanent placement through adoption.

In cases where the adoption or reintegration with the biological parents is not possible, the child  stays with the foster parents who initially cared for them for long-term care if they are willing.  If not, the child will be given under the care of other willing licensed foster parents.

“Gusto naming mag-ampon talaga, pero dahil sa nawalan ako ng trabaho nitong January, nag-decide kaming mag-foster muna at i- share ang aming buhay sa bata kahit medyo limited ang aming resources (We really wanted to adopt initially but since I lost my job this January, we opted for foster care to share our life with a child despite our limited resources),” shared Jocelyn or Joy to her friends.

The couple got interested in the Foster Care Program after watching a segment of the program, The 700 Club, where the guest, Ms. Malen Papadapoulous from Operation Compassion, discussed adoption and foster care.

The Manalang couple approached  DSWD to learn more about the program.

They became licensed foster parents on April 23, 2014. As foster parents, they attended a matching activity with foster kids.

Matching

Rico and Joy were matched with AP, 5, who had been rejected twice – by his parents who abandoned him and by the foreign prospective adoptive parents.

AP is a special child who has been diagnosed with Global Development Delay that affects his intellectual and communications abilities. Aside from this, he also has spinal deformity.

Joy said that they were surprised to learn that their foster kid is a special child and had second thoughts about accepting him, but the couple’s desire to have a child conquered their fears.

The Manalang couple expected their life to change with the arrival of AP but they were admittedly caught unprepared by the big change.

Speaking in front of  DSWD officials and employees during the flag ceremony yesterday at the Central Office, Joy shared, “Mahirap pala ang mag-alaga ng bata  (It’s difficult to raise a child).”

She added, “Hindi makatarungan para sa amin ang tanggihan siya dahil iniwan na siya ng biological mother niya at umurong naman ang prospective adoptive parents niya  (We believe it would be unfair to reject him because he had already been surrendered by his biological mother and his prospective adoptive parents had second thoughts).”

Rico and Joy decided to push through with fostering AP for three months, as initially committed.

On May 11, 2014, AP was already placed in their care and their journey as a family began.

“Unang araw pa lang po ay na-realize namin na hindi pala picnic ang pinasok namin. Mahirap po at nakakapagod dahilang baby po namin ay hyperactive, speech deficient, not toilet trained, at fully dependent (We realized on the first day that taking care of AP was no picnic.  It was hard and tiring because our baby is hyperactive, speech deficient, not toilet trained, and fully dependent),” Joy added.

But Joy also said that it was heartening to hear her mother saying that AP kept on improving with every month of his stay with them.

Despite the hardships, Rico and Joy do not regret taking care of AP.

Joy shared, “Ricky and I are happy together. With only the two of us, I can say we are content to be together. But when AP came,  our lives became colorful. There is so much love in our home.”

Three months came too fast. Though hesitant to return AP to Hospicio de San Jose, they had no choice. They are hopeful that their separation from AP would be temporary as they are willing to renew their commitment and take him again in their care.

Joy said that while waiting for the return of AP, she and Rico are making the necessary preparations needed to ensure that they are better equipped to take care of him.

“Sa pagbabalik ni AP, alam namin na mas kaya na namin ang pagbabagong dala niya sa aming buhay (When AP returns, we are sure that we can cope with the change that he will bring to our family),” Joy stated.

Humility

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman lauded the Manalang’s big heart in welcoming AP to their home, albeit temporarily.

“Sina Rico at Joy ay mga modelo ng kababaang-loob, dahil sa pagpapakumbaba nila sa pagtanggap kay AP.  Lalong higit na kahanga-hanga na pinili nilang mahalin si AP na tulad ng isang biological na anak kahit na ito ay may kapansanan  (Rico and Joy are models of humility as they humbled themselves in accepting AP.  Moreover, it is admirable that the couple chose to love AP like their own child despite his disabilities).”

The Secretary also explained that the story of Joy and Rico, a simple couple, is proof that even ordinary Filipinos can help better our country.

“Kaya ng kahit na mga simpleng mamamayan ang tumulong sa pagbabago, basta may sinserong puso para dito (Joy and Rico’s story shows that even an ordinary Filipino can help towards the betterment of the country for as long as they have the heart for it).”

Support

Sec. Soliman emphasized that a foster child is given a monthly subsidy by the government to support his/her needs. The subsidy may be in the form of financial aid, goods, or support services.

Likewise, a foster parent can treat the foster child as a dependent for a particular taxable year. S/he is also given skills training and livelihood assistance, among others.

Throughout the process of fostering, the DSWD and licensed foster care agencies or child placing agencies will be there to support and guide foster families/parents in every step of the way.

For the 1st semester of 2014 alone, 119 children from the National Capital Region are under the foster care of 107 licensed foster parents.  ###

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DSWD clarifies unliquidated CCT funds by Philpost

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) today clarified that based on its official records as of August 31, only P1.6 billion of conditional cash transfer (CCT) funds were unliquidated by the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost). The amount is based on the report of the Land Bank of the Philippines to DSWD.

The clarification came after a media report mentioned that the latest annual audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on Philpost cited that the postal agency has accumulated P5 billion in unliquidated CCT funds.

“It is now unclear with DSWD if the P5 billion is all CCT funds or it also covers other activities of the postal agency. Based on our records, it is only P1.6 billion. And they are continuing to liquidate this amount,” said Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.

DSWD also clarified that it is the Landbank of the Philippines that has contracted Philpost to become one of its conduits for the distribution of cash grants.

With this, Philpost liquidates the funds with Landbank. The bank then furnishes DSWD with liquidation reports.

Cited as reasons for  the delay are the lack of manpower due to Philpost’s  Rationalization Program and the unexpected increase in the volume of transactions during the current years.

It can be recalled that at the start of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, DSWD entered into an agreement with Landbank for the distribution of cash grants to beneficiaries. As the main distributor of cash grants, Landbank contracted other conduits such as G-Cash and Philpost, among others, to help disburse the grants.

For G-cash, Globe pays the beneficiaries using their own funds. After the payout to the beneficiaries, they are reimbursed by Landbank.

It is only for Philpost that Landbank gives the funds in advance and the schedule of distribution.

“Philpost was chosen as conduit because it has the capacity to distribute the cash grants even to beneficiaries living in remote barangays. With Philpost going to their areas, the beneficiaries would just have to spend a maximum of P100 to claim their cash grants,” Sec. Soliman added.

However, due to the increasing unliquidated amounts accumulated by Philpost, the Landbank has terminated its engagement with Philpost in June this year.

DSWD emphasized that the process of liquidation is a continuing activity.

It requires the submission of documentation of program implementation until all expenditures are fully accounted for.

Control measures

Sec. Soliman added that the program continues to improve and strengthen its operations to ensure that cash grants go to the rightful beneficiaries.

It has a Beneficiary Data Management System which ensures that information about the households is regularly updated and verified if there are duplicate entries.

Likewise,  the Grievance Redress System (GRS) is fully operational. It captures and processes complaints and queries about the program.

Sec. Soliman shared that the GRS conducts validation and assessment of all complaints received by the agency.

The GRS has a dedicated text hotline, 0918-9122813, e-mail, and social networking sites (Facebook and Twitter) set-up to receive complaints from the public.

Pantawid Pamilya immediately withholds the cash grants of questionable households.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment. We continue to work with utmost dignity and stands by the integrity of our programs and services,” Sec. Soliman concluded. ###

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As of September 17, 2014 (8:00am)

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