As the government’s lead agency providing for the Filipino people people’s social welfare needs, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has declared its preparedness to bring its services and programs to Boracay to assist  communities affected by the rehabilitation efforts in the island and its pending temporary closure to tourists.

The DSWD is set to activate two Operations Center in Aklan on April 26, one at Boracay and one in the mainland in front of the Malay Municipal Hall, to facilitate the release of assistance and emergency welfare services for families and workers who will be affected by the said closure.

The operations center will give the DSWD and its various units’ timely updates on the status of affected families. Social workers will be constantly present on the ground to determine the issues and problems the communities will face during the closure. Even now, social case reports are being prepared on the status of the residents when it comes to their food, shelter, and livelihood needs.

DSWD Officer in Charge Emmanuel Leyco assigned Field Office (FO) VI Regional Director Rebecca Geamala as head of the Boracay Ground Operations who will oversee the implementation of programs such as Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), Cash-for-Work (CFW), Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP).

Meanwhile, DSWD FO VI has determined the total number of beneficiaries in Aklan for each program:  29,915 poor families are listed in Listahanan; 27,201 are under 4Ps; 14,109 under SLP; 45,826 under the Social Pension Program; and 14,447 under the SFP. Data from the region shows that 2,348 household members of Pantawid Pamilya will be affected by the closure. The number may increase awaiting validation of the field office.

PROGRAMS Beneficiaries
1. Listahanan 292
2. Pantawid 684
3. Sustainable Livelihood Program 213
4. Social Pension 661
5. Supplementary Feeding Program 240

Prior to the preliminary impact assessment conducted by the Field Office VI, potential problems include loss of business, livelihood, and employment; children being forced to leave school or be frequently absent; sickness;  internal displacement of persons; and cost to properties of individuals, families, and communities especially to the support services workers and beneficiaries of the agency.

“We know that the closure will have significant negative effects on households and employment. We will work as best as we can to mitigate these effects by engaging in convergence efforts with other government agencies,” OIC Leyco said.

With the available data, FO VI recommended a P34 million budget for the Cash-For-Work (CFW) program for eleven-day work duration at P323.50/day regional minimum daily wage set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The total amount of P192 million for the provision of skills training for microenterprise development and employment facilitation at P20,000 per beneficiary is also needed.

The Municipality of Malay has released data stating that 30,000 people will be affected by the closure. Of this figure, 17,328 are registered local and foreign workers while unregistered workers are estimated to be over 11,000.

OIC Leyco has also already called for inter-agency social response as the DSWD is the chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). He has already engaged in preliminary discussions with the respective heads of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the DOLE for synchronized response efforts.

“This is not an open and shut case, it will evolve soon. It will be difficult, but we will stand by the people and support them with all means available within the mandate of the department. The people are the best partners of the government in its pursuit of development goals. This is why we need to put their interest, needs and welfare first,” OIC Leyco said. ###