Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian highlighted the importance of digitalization of social protection programs during the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) high-level panel discussion for the Asia-Pacific Social Protection Week (APSP) on Tuesday (September 26).
“Digitalization is something that the President [Marcos] wants. It is something that the time is calling for, and it is something that we are making a reality in the Department,” Secretary Gatchalian explained.
Learning from his experience as city mayor at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DSWD chief noted that the biggest struggle during the health crisis was the disconnection between urging the public to stay at home, and informing them to leave their homes to obtain their social amelioration financial assistance in payout centers.
Secretary Gatchalian stressed that social protection programs must be implemented through a rights-based and needs-based approach to be able to adapt with the changing socio-economic digital landscape.
“We want to make sure that every single social protection financial assistance program there is in the Department should be in digital format. We should do away with lines, we should do away with physical vouchers, we should do away with physical cash. Everything should be done online, and everybody should go online than fall in line,” the DSWD chief pointed out.
One of the fully digital programs that Secretary Gatchalian highlighted is the WALANG GUTOM 2027: Food Stamp Program (FSP) that uses electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT) loaded monthly with Php3000 food credits which beneficiaries can use to purchase nutritious food items.
Aside from the FSP, the DSWD is also in the process of digitizing the provision of guarantee letters for the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.
Digital transformation is one of the priority programs of the DSWD to deliver better and more efficient social welfare and development programs and services to the Filipino people.