Thursday| June 22, 2017
The Budget department has provided the Social Welfare department P662.5 million to help communities affected by the Marawi crisis, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the money would be used to buy food and non-food items and hygiene kits for evacuees.
“I’m glad to tell you that the DBM has downloaded P662,500,000 to the department as of June 6. So we have been able to purchase the needed family food packs as well as to augment our hygiene kits and non-food items,” Taguiwalo said in a press briefing on Thursday in Malacañang.
“I can assure you that the money will not go to the pocket of DSWD. I can assure you that it will benefit the needy,” he added.
Taguiwalo said her agency has so far spent P294 million for food and non-food items given to families displaced by the clashes between government troopers and Maute terrorists.
More than 320,000 people or about 69,000 families have been displaced by the conflict while around 500 others are still trapped in the battle zone.
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Taguiwalo said only about five percent of the displaced persons are inside evacuation centers while the rest are with their relatives and friends.
She said evacuees fled to Iligan, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato City, Caraga, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
Taguiwalo said the DSWD would also buy tents for 69,000 displaced families in preparation for their return to Marawi. She said each tent can accommodate eight people.
“We are preparing for it. We are procuring now family-sized tents. Actually, we have started the procurement three weeks ago in preparation for the return of our evacuees to Marawi City and we hope to provide individual tents per families,” the social welfare chief said.
“This can be immediately used rather than the emergency shelter assistance, where you have to wait for the validation et cetera before you can have it. So that’s the plan,” she added.
Taguiwalo revealed that the bidding for the tents failed last Wednesday but efforts are underway to fast-track the procurement.
“This is an emergency situation so we can adapt the appropriate procurement system that is not as stringent as those implemented during regular times,” she said.
The DSWD has also distributed P1,000 in cash assistance to displaced residents upon the request of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government.
“The family food packs, while halal, you know, would not capture their needs because they need sweets, fruits, they need to break the fast. We have started the distribution of P1,000 each, all of the families will be provided that,” Taguiwalo said.
“Another P4,000 per family has been budgeted already. Once they are allowed to go back to Marawi to help them start anew,” she added.
Taguiwalo said Marawi residents affected by the clashes would also be given cash assistance under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program even if they are not included in the list of beneficiaries. She said her agency has also implemented a moratorium on the requirements for beneficiaries like attending family development sessions.
“The problem is because they are displaced, we have to look for them,” she said.
Taguiwalo said the decision of the Commission on Appointments to bypass her would not affect the performance of her duties.
“I serve at the pleasure of the president, okay? So, the president has been communicating with me through SAP (Special Assistant to the President) Bong Go, and has been informing me of the needs,” she said.
“I have been reporting to them. So far, I do not have problems. Perhaps those who will have problems are those whose appointments I have signed if there are any,” she added.
Palace: PAGCOR to provide Marawi rehab funds
Aside from providing immediate assistance to the evacuees, the government will also allot billions for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of strife-torn Marawi City.
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced plans to spend P20 billion for the “Bangon Marawi” rehabilitation plan, which will start once the city is cleared of terrorists.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said half of the amount would come from the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“DBM Sec (Benjamin) Diokno said that the first 10 billion would come from PAGCOR,” Abella said.
“We assume that the next P10 billion may also come from the same source,” he added.
The executive order on the Bangon Marawi rehabilitation program is now awaiting the president’s signature.