Amid the mass evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents of flooded low-lying areas in Luzon, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has called on President Rodrigo Duterte to name a new secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Pimentel also said the governments’ flagship poverty-alleviation program, which has a budget of P89 billion for 2018, “needs a stable and excellent leadership of the DSWD for it to be effectively implemented.”
Continuing heavy monsoon rains triggered by tropical storms have claimed seven fatalities and five missing as of Sunday night and caused the evacuation of residents hit by flooding and the threat of landslides in at least seven regions.
Pimentel said, “Swift action and urgent decision making are needed to ensure that aid will reach residents of affected areas.”
He said because of the limited powers given by law to acting DSWD Secretary Virginia Nazarrea Orogo, the government’s conditional cash grants to poor families to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of their children below 18 years old, “could unnecessarily suffer.”
Orogo, former undersecretary for special concerns of the DSWD, was named by President Duterte as acting head last May 8 to replace Undersecretary for General Administrative and Support Services Group Emmanuel Leyco.
The President had earlier named Leyco DSWD officer-in-charge after the Commission of Appointments rejected the ad-interim appointment of former secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
Pimentel said a new head was also needed to make sure that the Department’s “pro-poor” and “pro-people” programs like the KALAHI-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) and the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) would be effectively implemented.
He said the onset of the typhoon season placed the DSWD on a “very significant role in the relief and rehabilitation operations of storm-ravaged provinces across the country.”
Pimentel said he wanted to see the DSWD shielded from politics so it could continue to implement its 29 programs, activities and projects aimed at reducing poverty and improving the lives of the poor.
The DSWD has a P137.55 billion budget this year, sixth among national government agencies with the highest budget allocation.
“DSWD also has role in distribution of aid to the poor under TRAIN Law hence, important that Secretary be appointed as soon as possible!” Pimentel added. With Vito Barcelo