Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian spearheaded the payout activities for the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for victims of disaster and the Social Pension Program for indigent senior citizens in Siargao Islands on Wednesday, February 8.
DSWD Secretary Gatchalian led the distribution of cash assistance under the ESA program to some 4,840 victims of Typhoon ‘Odette’ in the Municipality of General Luna, Surigao Del Norte.
The beneficiaries received financial assistance worth Php10,000 for each family who is not a recipient of housing assistance from the National Housing Authority (NHA) and Php5,000 for those who were assisted by NHA.
Secretary Gatchalian noted that the cash aid may be used by the families for the repair of their houses particularly those that were totally damaged by the Typhoon in December 2021.
“Nandito ang DSWD para tumulong ulit at makadagdag pa sa kailangan ninyo para sa repairs ng inyong mga bahay” (The DSWD is here to help you and to supplement your needs for the repair of your houses), the Secretary said.
The Secretary also believed that recovering from a widespread disaster, such that of Typhoon Odette, is a gradual process, “sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes years.”
Secretary Gatchalian assured the beneficiaries that the Department will continue to assist the victims of the Typhoon by closely coordinating with the local government units (LGUs) in providing sustainable livelihood for them.
“Sigurado ang pagbangon ninyo ay tuloy tuloy at hindi nagtatapos sa araw na ito” (Rest assured that you will be assisted towards full recovery and that does not end today), he added.
Meanwhile, the Secretary also vowed to further improve and fast-track the relief operations of the Department following the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Secretary Gatchalian is optimistic that through the collaboration of DSWD and the LGUs, the residents of Siargao will recover from the devastating effects brought by Typhoon Odette.
The ESA program is meant to provide limited financial or material assistance to family-victims of disasters to assist them in rebuilding their homes and lives.
Social pension for seniors
In a related development and as part of his official visit to Siargao Islands, Secretary Gatchalian also witnessed the distribution of social pension for indigent senior citizens in the Municipality of Dapa, Surigao Del Norte.
Some 1,112 social pensioners received their monthly stipend for the first semester of 2023, amounting to Php 3,000 each. The Php 500 monthly stipend under the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens is distributed by DSWD to its beneficiaries every semester through various delivery schemes including Cash Advance by a Designated Special Disbursing Officer (SDO); Door-to-Door delivery scheme; and Fund Transfer to LGUs.
The stipend aims to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of indigent senior citizens.
“Naiintindihan ko na mahirap maging senior citizen sa ganitong panahon, kasi una, pambili ng pagkain; pangalawa pambili ng gamot; at pangatlo pambili ng mga gamit” (I understand the struggle that our senior citizens face these days, especially in acquiring their daily needs such as food and medicines, among others), Secretary Gatchalian said.
The Secretary assured the senior citizens in Dapa that the provision of pensions will continue even as the program currently transitions to the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC).
The Department will work closely with the NCSC for the smooth transfer of the implementation of Social Pension program from DSWD to the Commission.
Meeting with local officials
Also during his visit to the island, Secretary Gatchalian met with nine local chief executives in the area to further strengthen the partnership between the DSWD and the LGUs in the Island.
Secretary Gatchalian had a dialogue with the local leaders for possible collaboration in the implementation of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, Sustainable Livelihood Program, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and ESA, as well as the prepositioning of family food packs (FFPs).