Nearly three years past Tropical Storm Pablo (Bopha), partners and survivors hail the quick and continuing response of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in relief operations, early recovery and rehabilitation of affected communities.

First in line

In her message during the turnover of permanent shelters in Cateel, Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon of Davao Oriental, reiterated her gratefulness, “I am very overwhelmed by DSWD’s support to the province. If there’s one agency that we should really thank for its support, then that would be DSWD. I personally have been a witness to DSWD’s massive support to the province since day one until now in our rehabilitation phase. I also commend the efforts of the department for standing ready especially when it comes to providing long-term shelters to the hapless typhoon victims. I admit DSWD work is excellent. As I said even before, I salute them.”

For the province of Compostela Valley, Gov. Arturo T. Uy recounted, “The first national agency to really extend support, it was DSWD, of course, aside from the AFP and the PNP. DSWD extended not only food but also psycho-social intervention. It was not a one-shot deal but has been sustained until now –giving us assistance, guiding us, ensuring that all government funds are implemented. With the cash-for-work and livelihood programs of DSWD, napagaan ang damdamin ng mga tao (eased the people’s burden),”

According to Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer of Compostela Valley Josephine M. Frasco, DSWD played a big role in the Typhoon Pablo response. “At day one, DSWD immediately responded, DSWD workers were already in New Bataan. DSWD was our partner in the crisis. Even before the typhoon, during the Masara landslide in Maco, DSWD was the first to send relief goods and food agad agad (instantly). DSWD is maaasahan (reliable) in the immediate delivery of assistance.”

Enough goods

I would say I was overwhelmed by the devastation of Pablo but I was equally overwhelmed with the assistance of DSWD to ComVal. Our dampened spirits were lifted because of the assistance from DSWD. We did not only have the goods but DSWD workers arrived as well, providing personal touch, Frasco emphasized. “DSWD did not only end in providing shelter but delivered livelihood as well where the community was really involved and where people learned to work together.”

New Bataan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer for 17 years Beverly Jane B. Dela Peňa narrated: I immediately texted DSWD when it happened. I remember I typed, “Need help, water food.” DSWD staffs came with food. It was also DSWD that installed the systems –evacuation, DAFAC (Disaster Assistance Family Access Card) forms, camp management with Pantawid MLs (municipal links). Even personnel from DSWD Central Office and from other regions came to assist and augment.

Further, Mayor Lorenzo L. Balbin Jr of New Bataan said, “DSWD conducted stress debriefing in the gym. There is continuity of assistance. Programs and projects for recovery and rehabilitation were pushed like livelihood and shelter. We now have Kalahi-CIDSS. The number of families under Pantawid Pamilya has expanded to 4000 plus. And we still have Supplementary Feeding and Social Pension.”

More support

A very big role was played by DSWD including provision of emotional support, stress debriefing and other interventions. The approaches and processes used were relevant especially in the emotional and physical recovery, financial and shelter assistance, stressed Engr. Lolito P. Campos, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator of New Bataan town.

Montevista Mayor Eutropio S. Jayectin pointed out that DSWD delivered the most services –shelter, livelihood. “DSWD workers are a big help too. We got enough from DSWD. We now have Kalahi-CIDSS with P45 million, livelihood, Social Pension, Supplementary Feeding. All these are advantageous to us. We recovered fast with all the assistance we got.”

“We were treated well. We were provided shelters and we are very happy. We are doing better with the continuing programs of DSWD. A number of houses have been constructed here and we have far better houses now compared before when our roof was only made of cogon. We really feel the support and the great love of DSWD to Dalaguete, exclaimed Barangay Chair Jolly K. Salvador of Dalaguete, Montevista.

Disaster or none, DSWD workers will continue to advance in affected and poorest communities, armed with the full package of relevant programs and projects. (DSWD)