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DSWD chief cites role of social workers in public service, vows to further capacitate them

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian honored the significant role of social workers in the delivery of social protection packages in the country during the 27th National Social Welfare and Development Forum and General Assembly held on Wednesday (May 15) at the Iloilo Convention Center in Mandurriao District.

“If there is a most noble profession, I personally believe that it is always the registered social workers,” Secretary Gatchalian told the more than 2,000 local social welfare and development officers (LSWDOs) and social workers from different local government units (LGUs) who attended the national assembly and forum.

Secretary Gatchalian cited the COVID-19 situation to illustrate the vital role of social workers in ensuring the smooth delivery of social protection programs and services by the government.

“I saw it firsthand… I understand your pain and nauunawaan ko na kayo ang naging reason kung bakit naging matagumpay pa rin ang rollout ng social amelioration,” the DSWD chief pointed out.

As a former local chief executive of Valenzuela City, Secretary Gatchalian said he personally witnessed the hardships and sacrifices of the social workers at the local level.

“I do understand the dynamics of a local government unit. Naiintindihan ko na it is always the local government unit at the forefront of delivering change, services, and social protection…It is normally the PSWDO, MSWDO, or CSWDO that is the heart and soul of the organization,” the DSWD Secretary explained.

Defining the role of the DSWD, Secretary Gatchalian said the agency currently gears toward empowering social workers and social welfare assistants, who are at the frontline of the country’s social welfare and development, by setting standards and providing capacity-building activities.

“Moving forward, we define our current role into two things. One, capacitate. And two, to make sure that we come up with an environment that will enable you to make your jobs easier,” Secretary Gatchalian said.

“We would have to gradually accept that the DSWD will no longer be in the frontline but rather it is the local government units that need to do the heavy lifting,” the DSWD chief added.

In his speech, Secretary Gatchalian introduced to the social workers the DSWD Academy as a training camp that provides training courses along social welfare and development, as well as community development.

“The DSWD Academy will run certificate programs. And every time you guys attend these certificate programs that will put the standards that [are] set forth by the Department, it counts towards your CPDs [Continuing Professional Development],” Secretary Gatchalian pointed out.

Secretary Gatchalian reiterated that the DSWD is committed to enabling local social welfare and development officers to “deliver services faster, easier, and in a more humane manner”.

“Mahirap na ho ang buhay ng mga social woker. Ayaw na naming magdagdag pa ng burden sa inyo. We do not want to do that anymore in the Department. We want to make your lives easier,” the DSWD chief emphasized.

With the theme, “Unifying Forces: Local Government Units’ Catalyst for Collective Action, Social Movements, and Social Change”, the forum was organized by the Association of the Local Social Welfare and Development Officers of the Philippines, Inc.(ALSWDOPI), headed by its National President Jhunleymar D. Abella, RSW.

Secretary Gatchalian was accompanied by DSWD Field Office-6 (Western Visayas) Regional Director Atty. Carmelo N. Nochete and Assistant Regional Director for Administration (ARDA) Joselito G. Estember, who is also a social worker by profession.

The ALSWDOPI is a professional organization of the provincial, city, and municipal social welfare and development officers in the country organized in 1996. It is a globally competitive association of LSWDOs whose members are composed of fully functioning local chapters nationwide.

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