By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has temporarily suspended “some activities of its programs and services” starting March 15 to April 14 that require beneficiaries and other stakeholders to gather.
In a March 14, 2020 advisory signed by DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, activities that are temporarily suspended are “the payouts of Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens and Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT), Listahanan enumeration, and activities of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) particularly the administration of Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI).”
In a viber message, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao clarified that the DSWD is “not suspending” its pro-poor programs, but “is temporarily suspending some activities of certain programs,” that require the gathering of beneficiaries.
Also temporarily suspended are “over-the-counter pay-outs and distribution of cash cards, activities in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), and service delivery assessments.”
“The Department emphasized that it is deeply concerned with the health of the beneficiaries and its personnel that it decided to temporarily suspend the activities of certain programs and services,” the DSWD said in a statement.
“This step will minimize the exposure of beneficiaries, especially those from vulnerable groups such as children, persons with disabilities, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, and senior citizens, as well as DSWD employees from the threats of COVID-19,” it added.
It assured the public that it “will assess the temporary suspension from time to time to ensure responsiveness of the policy to the evolving situation.”
“This will be done to determine if the suspension of some program activities will have to be continued or otherwise,” the agency said.
Assistance to continue
The DSWD said individuals who are in need of urgent medical and burial assistance will be assisted through the agency’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).
A total of 30 beneficiaries will be accepted for processing daily at the Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Team Offices nationwide, while 50 beneficiaries will be processed daily at various DSWD Field Offices.
“The DSWD Central Office will also accept and process the request for assistance of 100 beneficiaries daily. A guarantee letter will be given to the beneficiaries,” it said.
So as not to further compromise the health and well-being of the elderly family members, young and healthier members of the family have been advised to apply and bring the necessary requirements.
The DSWD said fire victims will also be given financial assistance or guarantee letters under the AICS which will be given in evacuation centers.
The advisory also assured continued distribution of food and non-food items.
“The DSWD will coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for the hauling, and with the local government units (LGUs) for distribution to the residents. As frontline in service delivery, LGUs provide initial assistance to their constituents. The DSWD, in turn, augments the resources of the LGUs,” it said.
“DSWD Centers and Residential Care Facilities (CRCFs) nationwide will also continue its operations, but visits from family members and other guests will be regulated, and proper social distancing will be implemented,” it added.
The DSWD also assured distressed Overseas Filipinos (OFs) that social protection services will be extended to them.
“All Social Welfare Attaches will remain in their diplomatic posts in their assigned countries for continuity of DSWD assistance,” it said.
The DSWD said it will continue to protect its employees who will provide continuous public service amid the COVID-19 health emergency.
“The Department will ensure the safety and good health of its skeletal workforce, through the provision of protective equipment and frequent sanitation and disinfection of their work areas,” it said.
The DSWD also asked the public to remain calm and to fully cooperate with the government by adopting social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation at all times.
“The Department also guarantees that social amelioration will continue amidst the threat of COVID-19 to serve the poor, vulnerable and marginalized,” it said.