Home>News>DSWD’s swift response brings hope to oil spill-affected families in Mindoro, Palawan

DSWD’s swift response brings hope to oil spill-affected families in Mindoro, Palawan

Pola oil spill
DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian personally hands over family food packs (FFPs) to oil spill-affected residents of Pola, Oriental Mindoro on March 4, 2023.

Almost one year after an oil spill struck the provinces of Oriental Mindoro and Palawan in February 2023, affected residents are now returning to their normal lives through the continuous support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez said on Monday (January 8).

Asst. Sec. Lopez said the DSWD, in coordination with the concerned local government units (LGUs) and other key agencies, responded to the human-induced disaster with various initiatives aimed at providing immediate relief and long-term recovery to mitigate the impacts of the oil spill on fisherfolk and their communities.

“The DSWD Field Office-MIMAROPA played an important role in coordinating and harmonizing humanitarian activities to address the diverse challenges posed by the oil spill on the environment, livelihood, and overall well-being of the residents,” Asst. Sec. Lopez, who is also the agency’s spokesperson, said.

The DSWD has aligned its response with the human capital investment core programs such as the provision of family food packs (FFPs), Cash-for-Work (CFW), Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT), Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Providing for the daily needs of the affected population

As part of its rapid response, the DSWD provided food packs to more than 29,300 residents in six waves of relief distribution to sustain their food supply while their economic activities were limited and restricted.

“The seventh and eighth waves of FFP distribution were facilitated by the respective provincial governments,” the DSWD spokesperson noted.

Aside from this, the residents from the municipalities of Oriental Mindoro and Palawan placed under the State of Calamity were provided with ECT, as an adaptive strategy to bridge the gap between immediate disaster relief, humanitarian response, and early recovery.

More than 17,000 affected fisherfolk, who own motorized and non-motorized boats, were given emergency cash assistance to help them meet their daily needs, amounting to over Php 187.3 million.

Considered in difficult circumstances, fisherfolk and residents from the affected areas were also provided with different services through the DSWD’s AICS offering tailored support.

“The assistance includes food, hot meals, and outright cash assistance, among others,” Asst. Sec. Lopez pointed out.

More than Php 74.4 million in humanitarian aid were given to oil spill-affected individuals under the AICS program.

Providing additional resources to fisherfolk

Recognizing the lack of a source of income due to fishing restrictions, the DSWD also implemented the CFW program, extending employment opportunities to 27,448 affected fisherfolk and residents in some areas of Oriental Mindoro and Palawan.

“The participants of the CFW program were deployed to conduct various activities including collecting locally available materials for making improvised oil spill boom and absorbent; establishing barangay or backyard gardens; mangrove rehabilitation, as well as community clean-up drives,” Asst. Sec. Lopez explained.

In exchange for the work rendered for 15 to 45 days, the program participants were provided by the DSWD with CFW, amounting to more than Php 336.8 million.

“Each program participant received an amount equivalent to their daily regional minimum wage which they can use to meet their needs such as food and water, among others,” the spokesperson said.

Moreover, some 944 affected residents from the municipalities of Pola, Bansud, Gloria, Bongabong, Roxas, Victoria, Bulalacao, Pinamalayan, Naujan, and the City of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro were given cash grants under the SLP to help them undertake an initial start-up for their long-term economic source.

Over Php 10 million in livelihood grants were provided to help the beneficiaries start anew with their chosen livelihood and business.

“The department’s commitment to community rehabilitation was evident through financial, food, and livelihood support initiatives,” Asst. Sec. Lopez said.

Through its collaboration with the LGUs, other agencies, and non-government organizations, the DSWD will continue to create sustainable opportunities for the affected residents, aiding them in rebuilding their lives and that of their communities.

While the oil spill’s ecological effects were profound, the DSWD‘s response showcased the government’s dedication not only in addressing immediate needs but also in fostering long-term recovery for the affected residents.

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