The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has issued its own guidelines in support to the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte to further control the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the country.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista signed on March 14 Department Advisory Number 1 titled, “Guidelines for the Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of the Spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the DSWD Offices, Attached and Supervised Agencies.” The advisory outlines the various steps to be taken by the Department to safeguard its workforce, internal, and external stakeholders, and to prevent the spread of the disease.
One of the actions to be undertaken is the temporary suspension of some of the Department’s programs and services that require meeting or gathering of beneficiaries and other stakeholders from March 15 to April 14. The President’s directive emphasized that all mass gatherings shall be suspended.
The Department is temporarily suspending the payouts of Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens and Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT); Listahanan enumeration; activities of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) particularly the administration of Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI), over-the-counter pay-outs and distribution of cash cards; activities in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS); and service delivery assessments.
The Department emphasized that it is deeply concerned with the health of the beneficiaries and its personnel that it decided to temporarily suspend the activities of certain programs and services. This step will minimize the exposure of beneficiaries, especially those from vulnerable groups such as children, persons with disabilities, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, and senior citizens, as well as DSWD employees from the threats of COVID-19.
The Department will assess the temporary suspension from time to time to ensure responsiveness of the policy to the evolving situation. This will be done to determine if the suspension of some program activities will have to be continued or otherwise.
Despite the suspension of some services, urgent medical and burial assistance can still be availed through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS). Clients may proceed to the Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Team Offices in the different provinces nationwide where 30 beneficiaries daily will be accepted for processing, and at various DSWD Field Offices where 50 beneficiaries daily will be processed. The DSWD Central Office will also accept and process the request for assistance of 100 beneficiaries daily. A guarantee letter will be given to the beneficiaries.
The Department strongly advises younger and healthier members of the family to be the ones to apply and bring the necessary requirements instead of the elderly family members so as not to further compromise their health and well-being.
Meanwhile, families who are affected by fire may still receive financial assistance or guarantee letters under the AICS which will be given out in evacuation centers.
In addition, distribution of food and non-food items will continue based on the guidelines of the Department. The DSWD will coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for the hauling, and with the local government units (LGUs) for distribution to the residents. As frontline in service delivery, LGUs provide initial assistance to their constituents. The DSWD, in turn, augments the resources of the LGUs.
DSWD Centers and Residential Care Facilities (CRCFs) nationwide will also continue its operations, but visits from family members and other guests will be regulated, and proper social distancing will be implemented.
With regard to the provision of social protection services to distressed Overseas Filipinos (OFs), all Social Welfare Attaches will remain in their diplomatic posts in their assigned countries for continuity of DSWD assistance.
To safeguard its employees who will provide continuous public service amid the COVID-19 health emergency, the Department will ensure the safety and good health of its skeletal workforce, through the provision of protective equipment and frequent sanitation and disinfection of their work areas.
DSWD appeals to the public to remain calm and to fully cooperate with the government by adopting social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation at all times. The Department also guarantees that social amelioration will continue amidst the threat of COVID-19 to serve the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.