Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday urged Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian to mount a “massive information campaign” to make Filipinos aware that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has a number of programs that they can avail themselves of for their needs.
In a manifestation during the hearing for the confirmation of Secretary Gatchalian’s Ad interim appointment at the Session Hall, Cayetano said one of the toughest challenges Gatchalian will face as DSWD Secretary is helping the people who, despite the department’s projects, remain in desperate need of assistance.
“I’ve noticed that we have mega-projects of P100 billion for 4Ps, we have P30 billion for AICS, minsan yung pinaka-simple na pag-kalinga sa pinaka-vulnerable ay naiiwanan o hindi nakikita,” the independent senator said, referring to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations.
Cayetano cited the case of a senior citizen, Nanay Feliza, who was not aware of DSWD’s programs and had to walk for several hours just to get food for her adult son who had a mental health condition. It was only when Nanay Feliza was reached by his staff that she was able to get help for herself and her son.
Cayetano said in contrast, there are those who are not in dire need but are able to access government assistance simply because they know that these exist.
“Minsan kasi y’ung hingi nang hingi na meron naman, y’un ang nakakaalam ng programa. Pero may mga katulad ni Nanay Feliza na living quietly, following the law, pero walang alam na ibang oportunidad,” he said.
Cayetano said a massive information campaign with the help of other government agencies will help the DSWD extend assistance to those who need it the most.
“I hope isa lang ang Nanay Feliza sa Pilipinas. But it’s possible na maraming Nanay Feliza na hindi lang walang access sa ayuda… hindi man lang nila alam na may ganon,” he said.
To help Filipinos access assistance more quickly, Cayetano encouraged Gatchalian to pursue his plan to create a mobile app that will make it easier for households with access to mobile phones to apply for the department’s various services.
He said while the task of creating the app and implementing the program nationwide will not be easy, the Senate is ready to provide all the help the DSWD needs to accomplish this task.
Cayetano also said the DSWD should update the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) for every Filipino household so the agency can better focus its efforts on people who really need its assistance.
Commending Gatchalian for his love and fear of God, his value towards giving everyone equal opportunities, and his personal stance against gambling, Cayetano said the Senate will help him by crafting legislation that will improve the DSWD’s services.
“Kasama sa challenge[s] is the offer nung lahat ng allies mo sa Senado at Kongreso. Of course, alam ko you have the support of the President and the Cabinet. Point us in the right way, help us craft the laws and policies,” Cayetano said.###