The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is backing the proposed six-year extension of the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program from 2023 to 2028.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said they rallied behind House Resolution No. 1421, principally authored by Masbate 2nd District Rep. Elisa “Olga” Kho, chairperson of the House Committee on Rural Development.
“The DSWD, as the government agency mandated to provide social welfare program with the goal of reducing poverty incidence and improving the quality of life, which is also one of the goals in AmBisyon 2040, believes that the extension of the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s Special Area for Agricultural Development Program beyond 2022 will further help the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged sectors who are greatly affected by the pandemic,” he said in a letter to the Kho panel dated January 15.
Under HR No. 1421, Kho urged the House leadership to extend the implementation of the DA’s SAAD program for six years from 2023 to 2028.
She said the SAAD program was created in 2016 and implemented in 2017 up to 2022 to contribute to poverty reduction and inclusive growth through the provisions of quality and timely agricultural interventions on animals, crops, and fisheries to identified beneficiaries.
“With the increasing poverty incidence in the poorest of the poor provinces impacted by the pandemic, the SAAD Program faces the serious challenge to intensify the implementation of its project services with its limited budget and resources, and inadequate manpower complement especially in the field operations,” Kho said.
According to the House leader, the SAAD must be provided a sufficient period of time and commensurate budget to address such a serious challenge.
“Extending the program of the SAAD for an additional period of six years beyond 2022 from 2023 to 2028 will potentially assist other poorest provinces or municipalities to gradually take off from the said category, address poverty reduction and inclusive growth as embodied in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017- 2022 adoption of AmBisyon 2040, and fulfill the Philippine government’s international commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” Kho said.
Under the resolution, Kho urged the House leadership to increase the funds to be appropriated to the DA’s SAAD for an additional six year after the commencement of its program in 2022.
“This shall include the creation of coterminous plantilla positions wherein qualified current Contract of Service (COS) staff in the SAAD Central and Regional Offices shall be prioritized to be hired,” she said.
She said the hiring of coterminous manpower who are already experienced and trained in SAAD implementation is needed to help ensure continuity in work and expertise.
“Also, the program shall be allowed to procure motor vehicles to be used for monitoring and evaluation of livelihood project implementation,” Kho added.