The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) respects the right to peaceful assembly of the rallyists who have started camping out since early Monday and will be staying for five days outside the office compound.
We, however, stand firm that our department has never been remiss of its duty in responding to Yolanda survivors. We have so far released P3 billion in emergency shelter assistance (ESA), relief assistance, cash for work and livelihood projects to the Provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental and Guimaras.
The following are our specific answers to the issues of the rallyists:
First, on the demand for scrapping of the Memorandum Circular 24 or the Guideline for ESA Implementation in Yolanda Affected Areas, we would like to clarify that all services of the DSWD have eligibility requirements and for ESA for the Yolanda victims, these are spelled out in MC 24. This is our basis in releasing ESA and this will be the same guideline that will be used by the Commission on Audit (COA) in post auditing such huge amount of disbursement. We will be in a very difficult situation if we do not follow the guideline. Another, the field office, being the implementing arm of Central Office cannot overrule or scrap an order that is signed by the Secretary of the DSWD. Further, Yolanda affected several other regions and it cannot be that the regional office will have a different guideline in its ESA implementation.
We commit to the rallyists though that we will communicate to Central Office the sentiment of the protesting groups.
Second, on the concern for swift releasing of ESA, we would like to inform the public that we have released the ESA fast contrary to speculations that we were slow. For ESA alone, we have released nearly P1.7 billion to LGUs. Although the budget was only downloaded on December 29, 2014, we have reached 105,000 families in a short span of time.
We, however, cannot release to all victims of Yolanda because we have to follow the guidelines. Specifically, MC 24 states that, “Regular employees of the government and private sectors/organizations with fix monthly salary below P15,000.00 shall also be eligible, provided they have not received the same assistance from other agencies and are indicated in the masterlist of beneficiaries in accordance with the DSWD Disaster Assistance Family Access Card (DFAC).”
To all the families affected who are eligible, we assure that as soon as funds will be downloaded to us by the DBM, we could also release fast the assistance to their LGUs provided the latter has completed the documents required.
Third, on the issue that there is a need for additional funds for all Yolanda victims, we call on those who feel they are eligible and were not listed to go to their respective Local Social Welfare and Development Offices and have their names listed. The names on the list will be subjected to a validation where our Municipal Action Team (MATs) must be represented so that when the list is submitted to the regional office, it is already final and validated. We will be calling all the six governors of the region to a meeting so that they can help us by monitoring all the mayors in their areas so that everyone will be able to submit the final and validated list of additional victims to the regional office on or before March 31, 2015. We intend to consolidate the submission and forward an additional fund request to DSWD Central Office by April 10.
We, the DSWD regional office 6 family, will always continue to be steadfast in the delivery of social welfare programs and services to the people of Western Visayas.
MA. EVELYN B. MACAPOBRE
Regional Director, DSWD Field Office VI