Less than a week before the national barangay elections, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issued a reminder to the public that DSWD programs and services are not directly or indirectly coursed through barangay officials or their offices, and that public officials claiming the said programs and services as their own are in violation of the law, namely the Omnibus Election Code.

“It has come to our attention that there are some elected officials or candidates running for election or re-election who publicly declare that DSWD programs and services such as the Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps), the Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and the Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) are released through their offices.  We hereby reiterate that this is not true and that DSWD programs and services are independent of the offices of politicians,” said DSWD Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel A. Leyco.

“While we do coordinate with local elected officials, including those at the barangay level, when it comes to implementation of our programs, these remain as programs and initiatives of the DSWD. We appeal to barangay re-electionists and candidates to refrain from spreading false information that they can, for instance, remove or have community residents removed or de-listed from the 4Ps if these residents do not vote  for them,” he explained.

OIC Leyco said that the DSWD continues to inform its partner-beneficiaries that they have the right to choose their candidates, to participate in the electoral process, and to give voice to what they want for themselves and their community.

In the meantime, in cases where DSWD programs and services as well as DSWD resources are reported to be used to further the political campaigns of certain candidates,  DSWD personnel and beneficiaries are instructed to report the same to the DSWD grievance redress system (GRS), including Hotline 8888.

Moreover, DSWD personnel  are not allowed to support and campaign for their own candidates.

According to Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, public officers (including DSWD personnel) may not, whether directly or indirectly, intervene in any election campaign nor engage in any partisan political activity.

Finally, OIC Leyco said that all DSWD personnel are one in recognizing that all beneficiaries of the DSWD’s programs such as the 4Ps, Kalahi-CIDDS, and the SLP are free to decide, choose, and express their beliefs and rights on issues concerning their lives and their communities.

“DSWD only acts as facilitators on how their voices will be amplified and be heard and be converted into action. We promote the empowerment of our partner-beneficiaries on active citizenry, and we support the rights of beneficiaries to intelligently participate in the electoral processes,” he concluded. #