Posted on 18 September 2014.
Sec. Soliman responds to issues regarding the implementation of the Department’s programs and service during the recently held press conference.
Quezon City – In a press conference on Monday, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano–Soliman assured Typhoon Yolanda survivors who are still living in tents that they will be transferred to transitional shelters by yearend.
To date, around 1,719 displaced families are still living in tents and makeshift houses.
Some 4,241 families have already transferred to transitional shelters.
Sec. Soliman said that DSWD is currently constructing 1,200 units of transitional shelters amounting to P68 million in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
At the same time, it is also currently working on the Core Shelter Assistance Program for the survivors of ‘Yolanda’ in Regions IV-B, V, VII, and VIII. Around 10,733 permanent shelter units are currently being constructed with a budget of P715.3 million
Sec. Soliman added that only one evacuation center located in San Fernando Central Elementary School in Region VIII remains open providing temporary shelter to 84 families.
She also asserted that the allegation that DSWD has not spent the more than P700 million cash donations it received is not true.
She said that about 90% of the total P1,121,890,457.41 local and foreign donations for ‘Yolanda’ survivors were already disbursed to DSWD-Field Offices as of August 28.
Only P117 million is the remaining balance and about P54 million of which has also already been allocated as additional funding for rehabilitaion efforts in the DSWD’s Field Offices.
She clarified that the COA report is as of December 31, 2013, and at this time, the DSWD was at the height of conducting relief operations and was still utilizing government funds.
The Secretary also explained the issue of rotten goods saying that this is not new. It happened on the first week of December 2013.
“We reported this to COA in December and already responded to the questions from the media then,” she maintained.
She added, “Although this was an unfortunate event, the damaged goods, which is only .17% of the over four million food packs we distributed, did not affect the overall relief operations.”
She explained that DSWD already made changes in the handling of the goods to ensure that such spoilage will not happen again, citing the establishment of additional warehouses for relief goods in Subic, Davao, and Cebu. The main warehouse of the Department, the National Resource and Operations Center (NROC), is based in Pasay City.
She also mentioned that prepositioned food packs in these warehouses have been increased to 30,000 packs at any given time to ensure that there will be goods to be distributed immediately during a disaster.
Also in the press conference, Sec. Soliman shared updates on the Pantawid Pamilya and responded to issues concerning the program.
Latest report showed that the compliance rate of the beneficiaries vis-à-vis the program conditionalities of sending their children to school, bringing them to health center, and participation to the Family Development Session is high at 93.7%, 96.6%, and 95%, respectively.
“Such high compliance by the beneficiaries shows that Pantawid Pamilya is not a dole out and does not lead to dependency because the families know their responsibilities,” Sec. Soliman explained.
Pantawid Pamilya now covers total households of more than 4.1 million.
As the program expanded to cover 0-18 year-old children, there are now 11,104,427 children-beneficiaries. The expansion in the age coverage ensures that children will graduate from high school and will have better chance of employment.
As for the P5 billion unliquidated Pantawid Pamilya funds incurred by Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost), the Secretary stressed that as of present, only around P532-million remains unliquidated and that it is not lost.
“Distribution of cash grants and liquidation are two different process. It does follow that because the money has not been liquidated yet, people can assume that it did not reach the rightful beneficiaries,” she stressed.
She explained that Philpost was tapped by Land Bank of the Philippines in order to reach far-flung Pantawid Pamilya households.
Although Landbank already terminated its contract with the postal company in June, Philpost is still liquidating the remaining amount.
Call for fair reporting
Sec. Soliman also appealed to the media for fair reporting.
She said that when the newspaper that broke out the news released its report on the COA findings, DSWD was not asked to give its side, the same with Landbank and Philpost.
She also faced head-on the call of some sectors for her to quit.
“It is not hard for me to quit, as I already did this before, especially if my values and principles are compromised. But at this point, I don’t want to be distracted because there are a lot of things to do,” Sec. Soliman said.
The Secretary stressed, “I listen to all comments, suggestions and recommendations. Kung merong dapat itama, aming itatama (We will make the necessary corrections if there are mistakes).” ###