We'll stand together to fight poverty – DSWD officials

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Undersecretary Parisya Taradji and Assistant Secretary Camilo Gudmalin called for greater convergence of government efforts in addressing the poverty situation in the Philippines, particularly in light of the expectation that stronger disasters will hit the country in the future.

“Our biggest enemy is poverty,” Asec. Gudmalin said. He explained that calamities will only worsen the situation, making poor people poorer and even push those that were previously identified as non-poor into poverty. 

Previously, DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that the “new normal” is the Philippines falling prey to strong calamities at the level of Typhoon Yolanda, which devastated Visayas and Palawan last November. 

Asec. Gudmalin explained that unified efforts need to be made in order to combat poverty.

He said, “Walang isang programa na kayang lutasin ang kahirapan [There is not one program that will be able to solve poverty singlehandedly].”

He went on to describe the three main programs of the DSWD – Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Taken together, the three was dubbed by the DSWD as Tatsulo, short for “Tatlong Sulo” (Three Torches), with the programs each a lit torch to combat the darkness that is poverty.

Asec. Gudmalin stressed that the unique contributions of each program should be brought to play to respond to the needs of the poor. As an example, he shared how some Pantawid Pamilya families are unable to improve their status because of the lack of availability of facilities providing basic services such as health care and education.

This problem, Asec. Gudmalin explained, can be solved through the Kalahi-CIDSS, which can help provide the supply-side requirement of the Pantawid Pamilya through its community interventions. This may include the construction of small-scale infrastructures designed to address the most basic needs of communities in the poorest municipalities in the country.

These small-scale infrastructures include school buildings, day care centers, health stations, and access roads, among others.

Meanwhile, Usec. Taradji said that they can also generate income through the SLP, which provides employment and business opportunities.

The Department now aims for greater convergence of its programs.

According to Usec. Taradji, the focus is now not just on the agency’s three main programs, but its other services as well, which include the Social Pension Program and the Supplementary Feeding Program.

Both Usec. Taradji and Asec. Gudmalin also made mention of the anti-poverty programs of the national government, which is being implemented by government agencies.

One such initiative is the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP), formerly known as Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB), which encourages citizens to participate in local development and governance. The GPBP is one of the national government’s initiatives to converge its efforts to better address the needs of the citizens all over the country.
The DSWD is one of the implementing national government agencies of GPBP through Kalahi-CIDSS, SLP, and its Protective Services Bureau (PSB). Other implementing agencies are the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Education (DepEd), The Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Asec. Gudmalin also emphasized the importance of building up the capacities and empowering communities and their local government officials.

He said, “The fight against poverty starts at the barangay local government units, and they need to be equipped with the skills to address these."

Asec. Gudmalin closed his message by again emphasizing the need to work together.

“Poverty, the societal divide that has been in existence for a long time, needs to be addressed. To do that, everyone should be involved, especially the leaders." ###