Amid the mass evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents from flooded low-lying areas in Luzon, Senator Koko Pimentel III is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint a new secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Pimentel said the government’s 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 rain enhanced by a series of tropical storms have left seven people dead and at least five people missing as of Sunday night and caused the evacuation of residents hit by flooding in at least seven regions.
“Swift action and urgent decision making are needed to ensure that aid will reach residents of affected areas,” the legislator said.
The lawmaker noted that because of the limited powers given by law to acting DSWD Secretary Virginia Nazarrea Orogo, 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.”
“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 DSWD undersecretary for special concerns, was named by the President as acting head of the department last May 8 replacing DSWD Undersecretary for General Administrative and Support Services Group Emmanuel Leyco.
The President had earlier appointed Leyco as DSWD officer-in-charge after the Commission of Appointments rejected the ad-interim appointment of former Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
Pimentel said a new DSWD head is 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) will be effectively implemented.
The senator said the onset of the typhoon season also places the DSWD in a “very significant role in the relief and rehabilitation operations of storm-ravaged provinces across the country.”
“The onset of the typhoon season places the DSWD on a very significant role in the relief and rehabilitation operations of storm-ravaged provinces across the country.”
Pimentel said he also wants to see the DWSD 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 DWSD has a P137.55 billion budget this year, making it the 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, it is important that a secretary be appointed as soon as possible!” Pimentel added.