DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo delivers the anti-poverty plans of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster during the Post-SONA Economic Briefing 2022.
DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo delivers the anti-poverty plans of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster during the Post-SONA Economic Briefing 2022.

“The DSWD has a solution and a program for every situation or need of poor Filipinos.”

This was the core message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo when asked about the agency’s efforts to help poor Filipinos cope with the rising cost of fuel and other commodities during the Post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Economic Briefing 2022 on Tuesday, July 26 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

To ease the burden and cushion the effects of this economic crisis, Secretary Tulfo pointed out that the Department will continue the distribution of the P500 cash subsidy under the Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program.

He also mentioned the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the flagship program for poverty reduction of the Philippine government which provides education and health subsidies to qualified families.

Furthermore, Secretary Tulfo encouraged individuals who lost their jobs or those who have no income at all, who exhibit potential and willingness for entrepreneurship or planning to go back to work but need assistance in acquiring employment requirements to come to the Department and apply for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

In addition, the DSWD offers a range of interventions to clients through this comprehensive and integrated program for the protection and provision of immediate psychosocial intervention, as well as limited financial and material assistance to individuals and families in crisis situations, including disaster victims.

“If you don’t have money for burial, we can give it to you. If you don’t have money to get your relative or your loved ones out of the hospital, we will pay it for you. And if you need to go somewhere, you need to go home to your family, you can come to us, the DSWD, and apply for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS),” Secretary Erwin added.

Meanwhile, as the Chairperson of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster, Secretary Tulfo highlighted in his keynote address the major priority projects of the cluster on food security, health, education, and social protection, among others.

Supporting agricultural sector to ensure food security

As emphasized by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. during his first SONA, ensuring food and nutrition security is one of the premier priorities of the administration.

During his speech, Secretary Tulfo assured the agriculture sector that the government will provide assistance and support in the delivery of accessible and affordable goods to all Filipinos with the goal to increase farm productivity.

“By increasing farm productivity and income, we mitigate hunger and malnutrition, ensuring that healthy food is always on the table of every family to help guarantee children’s growth in becoming productive citizens,” the Secretary added.

Strengthening health system and mental health programs

The Secretary also reported the cluster’s initiatives to improve and strengthen the health systems and programs through the progressive realization of universal health care by focusing on health systems integration, human resources for health, health financing, and health information system.

The HDPRC also vowed to prioritize and sustain the efforts of the government in reducing adolescent birth rates.

“Further, efforts to reduce adolescent birth rates are to be sustained and prioritized to counter health, social, and economic implications that affect the well-being of the mother and the child due to unforeseen pregnancy at an early age,” he added.

Moreover, the cluster also recognized the need to strengthen the mental health programs and mainstream mental health and psychological support in the country, especially for children.

Improving the quality of education and tech voc amid pandemic

Secretary Tulfo emphasized the need to develop a robust school education system to improve the quality of education in the country. To address the learning losses caused by the pandemic, the cluster proposed to provide capacity building activities for teachers and to implement catch-up programs.

In addition, the cluster will also look into amending the policies of the Commission on Higher Education to ensure that the Philippine tertiary education is at par with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international standards.

Aside from this, the Secretary also mentioned the improvement of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Programs by developing targeted upskilling and retooling programs, and to fast track the implementation of the Micro-Credentials for Lifelong Learning in TVET.

Reinforcing Community-Driven Development

In his message, Secretary Erwin stressed that the strengthening of community-driven development (CDD) is imperative to enhance the capacity and increase the local ownership of the communities by helping them identify and prioritize their needs.

“The CDD approach ensures that development priorities are addressed in a participatory, collective, inclusive, and demand-driven way. It is designed to give communities control of resources to address local poverty and build the capacity of both states, including local governments, and civil society stakeholders to provide assistance and respond to calls for support from poor communities as they implement development initiatives,” the Secretary explained.

Transforming social protection programs

Secretary Tulfo also presented the need to transform existing social protection programs to be adaptive and shock responsive.

“While most social protection is designed to provide assistance to households experiencing shocks as a result of life cycle events such as a loss of jobs, illness, or death, ‘shock-responsive social protection’ instead focuses on shocks that affect a large proportion of the population simultaneously. It encompasses the expansion of routine social protection programs and systems to cope with changes in context and demand following large-scale shocks. In this way, social protection can complement and support other emergency response interventions,” he added.

Harmonizing profiling and targeting systems

Another plan of the HDPRC is the harmonization of the profiling and targeting systems for vulnerable Filipinos.

To implement policies and social protection programs in an effective and timely manner, the cluster proposed to the Philippine Statistics Authority, in cooperation with the concerned stakeholders, to develop a registry of vulnerable groups, including the unemployed Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) returnees, displaced farmers, and fisher folks, and especially the street children, older persons, persons with disability, workers in the informal economy, and those affected by the pandemic and development interventions.

Digitalization in providing social service

With the President’s directive to utilize digital technology, the cluster plans to adopt cutting-edge digital technologies and platforms for efficient service delivery.

“Multiple information systems exist as they were developed to meet business processes and requirements whenever needs arose. As a result, each program has its own system. The lack of interoperability and integration among different programs is a major challenge to efficient business processes and digital data governance,” the Secretary added.

 Synergy among local government units

Secretary Tulfo highlighted the importance of harmonization and synergy through horizontal and vertical coordination with the local government units (LGUs), as they are the primary counterpart of the national government agencies at the local level and the first responders in disasters and calamities.

Lastly, the Secretary proposed that the national government shall ensure that mechanisms are in place to increase the ability of the LGUs to deliver service to the Filipinos. ###