DSWD clarifies UCT not a post-Christmas Bonus for 4Ps beneficiaries

Rumours spread among beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash program that they have received a post-Christmas bonus from President Rodrigo Duterte last month. This is after the beneficiaries noted that an amount of 2,400 pesos was deposited to their cash cards.

DSWD, the agency that implements the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, clarifies that the aforementioned amount is a lump sum of the newly-implemented Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) and not a post-Christmas bonus.

The UCT is a cash grant assistance to poor households to mitigate the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law which forms as the first part of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) of the government.

The lump sum grant which amounted to P2,400 (P200 per month) for 2018 was already released to those beneficiaries who are cash card holders. Other beneficiaries who are under the Over-the-counter scheme will be paid on a later date from April 11 to May 11 this year. For 2019 and 2020, the grant will be increased to P300 per month or equivalent to P3,600 as stipulated in the 3-year  implementation plan of the TRAIN Law.

“There is an immediate need for economic assistance especially for the underprivileged ones now that the TRAIN has been implemented and we are expecting increase in petroleum prices. We have already started with the release of the grants to some Pantawid beneficiaries and we are aiming to finish the distribution of the UCT by the end of June 2018. We are constantly coordinating with LandBank and other possible partners for the smooth implementation of the UCT especially when we start with the Over-the-counter pay-out,” said DSWD-9 Regional Director Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo.

In Region 9, a total of 68,393 Pantawid households already benefited from the UCT that amounts to P164,142,200. Of this figure, P55,620,000 were given to 23,175 households in Zamboanga City.

Other beneficiaries of the UCT will come from the members of the Social Pension Program of the DSWD and those identified and validated by the Listahanan.

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Aeschylus once said that from a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.

This means that every big accomplishment once had a small idea. The same is true with humanity. In order to produce dignified and successful people, one must plant, cultivate, and nurture seedlings of virtue and values in the minds of the young generation.

The MCCT-IP Pantawid beneficiaries in Barangay Sebod, Municipality of President Manuel Roxas in Zamboanga del Norte, do exactly what is supposed to be taught to their young indigenous children and to the millennial generation, in general.

As IPs, organic gardening is introduced to them at a very young age. This may be one if not the oldest chore that a young Subanen must learn. Despite being in an identified Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA), the IP beneficiaries seem to be adept in cultivating their land, growing green, leafy vegetables and root crops.

A parent leader took initiative to discuss the benefits of having a communal garden with the principal of Sebod Elementary School and the latter delightedly agreed and offered a plot for gardening in the school vicinity. And so, last November 2017, through the efforts and initiative of the MCCT beneficiaries, a communal garden became possible in the area and was launched with the support of their local partners.

After every CFDS, the group of beneficiaries collaboratively go to the gardening site and work on cultivating and improving their garden. They agreed to contribute a minimal amount to purchase seedlings and tools for maintenance. As for the IP children, they are encouraged to maintain cleanliness in the area to keep their plants healthy and fresh.

Come harvest time, the produces are shared with the community and donated to the barangay as additional ingredients to the Supplemental Feeding for IP children. The beneficiaries acknowledge the importance of healthy and nutritious food hence they make sure that the ingredients during their feeding are organic as well.

This project has helped the local officials in ensuring food security and promoting a healthy lifestyle amongst beneficiaries and their children.

According to the Community Facilitator Assistant (CFA) in the area, Benjie E. Bina, there were 2 reported cases of malnutrition in the area prior to the implementation of the project.

During their most recent update last January, the Barangay Health Worker reported 0 case of malnourish children in the said barangay. They credit this significant achievement to their strong promotion and involvement of children in health and nutrition.

Because of the positive results of such endeavour, the school principal suggested that the gardening should be extended by providing them additional lot for more vegetables to be planted to which the beneficiaries gladly accepted.

It is imperative that we secure children’s health by providing them nutritious food. But it is even more imperative that we teach them the value of a healthy lifestyle and how they can contribute to health and nutrition as young as they are.

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Service Above Self

Zamboanga Peninsula is a hub of diverse culture and beliefs. It is home for many brothers and sisters of various faiths that share a harmonious relationship despite the differences. This harmony is seen in its people as they live their lives helping one another for the betterment of their individual communities.

Though some beliefs are conflicting between and amongst people in some parts of the region, respect and genuine desire to help wins over differences. This story of a Community Facilitator tells exactly how dissimilarities in beliefs and culture are set aside in the name of public service.

Madznie Amilassan-Hali, a Community Facilitator under Modified Conditional Cash-Transfer (MCCT) Program in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte, is a native that embraces her religion of Islam. In more occasions than not, Madznie deals with clients who are as diverse in many ways as they are.

As a Community Facilitator, it is her duty to facilitate the project proposals of the beneficiaries and to monitor the sustainability and progress of the project. One of her assigned barangays identified piggery as their proposed project. It is not unknown to many that pig (or pork) is considered ‘haram’ or forbidden in Islam. A believer must not have a direct contact to such.

“As her immediate supervisor, I was expecting that she would decline the project as it goes against her beliefs. But being professional as she is, I was proved wrong. She took the project and handled the monitoring very well. Now that is professionalism with utmost dedication,” says Ma. Cleofe Solamillo, Provincial Link of Zamboanga del Norte.

DSWD upholds its mission to reach out to the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals without biases and prejudices. Anchored by their core values: Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo, Serbisyong Walang Puwang sa Katiwalian, at Patas na Pagtrato sa Komunidad, the department, together with its people, continues to serve the public with utmost dedication and commitment.

Madznie’s brand of genuine public service reflects the core values of DSWD. She is able to maintain professionalism in performing her duties and at the same time, follow and keep her strong faith and good relationship with Allah.

Regional Director of DSWD-9, Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo, always emphasizes the importance of respect in all aspects of life.

“We pay as much respect to our colleagues especially those in the field as we do to our beneficiaries. They are really the pillars of this institution that continuously and wholeheartedly give passion and dedication to deliver the mandates of the department. Their service shows the Malasakit of DSWD as the lead agency in promoting social welfare,” says Regional Director Solamillo.

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A Pebble of Hope

They say that finding your true purpose in life is like looking for a thread in a sea of pebbles. It’s difficult. It’s a lot of work. But it’s not impossible. Many find it hard to look for their purpose but for Sitti Aisa Taraji (now Askalani), at a very young age, she knew what and whom she lives for.

Very ideal and cliché as it may sound, it was clear to her that she wanted to serve the Filipino people. At first, she thought that being a teacher would bring her to the purpose that her heart longed for. Little did she know, Allah had a more exciting plan for her.

Life brought her to a world that was alien to her –the life of a Social Worker. It was so unfamiliar that people around her doubted her judgment on career choice. Many has been said about her being a Social Worker –that she was groomed to be a street sweeper; that she cannot grow as a professional; and even compared her to her siblings who are all in the medical field.

But despite of all the criticisms that she received for making such a decision, she stood firm to her desire to be an instrument of hope and service to many underprivileged families. In her heart, she was already very blessed that she has a rather convenient life. So the least that she can do is to share her blessings and create a significant impact to humanity.

In an interview, Aisa narrated how inspired she was when she started as a House Parent in 1998. She was already a Registered Social Worker then. After her short stint, she volunteered her service to the DSWD until she decided to apply for a position in the department.

“Kahit na Registered Social Worker na ako nun, hindi ko inisip na dapat regular position agad ang makuha ko. Okay lang kahit magvolunteer ako. Para sa akin, basta lang makatulong ako sa kapwa okay na yun sakin.”



(Though I was already a Registered Social Worker then, I didn’t mind being a volunteer. For me, as long as I am able to help the needy, I’m good with it,)” Aisa said with a smile on her face.

Fast-forward to 2016, she became the head of the Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU). Her daily life since she moved from the center was filled by seeing clients in the office waiting for assistance.

“Makikita mo sa mukha nila yung hirap ng pinagdadaanan nila, yung tinitiis nila yung gutom habang nasa pila. Nasasaktan akong makita na handa sila ilagay sa alanganin ang kalusugan nila para makasigurado lang na matatanggap nila ang tulong mula sa ating opisina. (Their struggles are seen on their faces. They would endure hunger while in the line. And it pains me to see that they are willing to put their health at risk just to ensure to receive the assistance from our office,)” Aisa added.

To make the clients more comfortable while waiting for the grant of their requests, the CIU in DSWD-9, through the initiative of Aisa, provides refreshments, cup noodles, biscuits, and coffee with the help of the CIU staff.

Aisa narrated that it was a bit challenging at first because there was no budget for such. Through her ingenuity and impressive interpersonal skills, she was able to gather food and drinks despite the lack of budget. She said that her rapport, clean track record and good relationship with colleagues have really helped her in this initiative.

It brought joy to Aisa to know that this simple gesture is appreciated by the clients. After all, public service must not compromise the health of the beneficiaries.

This very simple gesture also contributed to the significant increase in the number of clients handled by the unit. From 6,000 clients served in 2015, the unit was able to serve 11,000 beneficiaries in 2016 and even increased to 18,000 people served in 2017. Truly, word of mouth is a powerful tool to let people know of our services.

If you come to think of it, it was really just a small gesture, a small pebble in the gigantic services that the department gives to clients. Who would have thought that this very small gesture would result to so much trust and appreciation from the beneficiaries?

Maybe it was because of the satisfying food. Maybe it was because of the refreshing drinks. Or maybe it was because of the genuine care that the people in the DSWD such as Aisa showed for the needy and disadvantaged.

As our interview with Aisa ended, she left a statement that sounded like it come from the bottom of a sincere heart.

“It’s not about the recognition. It’s never about it. It is about being human, about finding your sense of fulfillment, about giving glory to Allah (or God in Christian faith), and about giving hope to those who may have felt hopeless,” Aisa said.

She may not have a very lucrative job as her siblings and others who doubted her do, at least to herself, Aisa knows that she has fulfilled her purpose and leave a mark in this world.

Aisa Askalani personally explains medical assistance of CIU to a client with her child.





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Pantawid Pamilya holds 6th National Children’s Congress

In line with the celebration of National Children’s Month, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is holding its 6th National Children’s Congress (NCC) from November 14-17, 2017 in Metro Manila.

About 88 children-beneficiaries of 4Ps representing the different provinces and Highly Urbanized Cities (HUCs) nationwide are participating in the congress including a regional representative from Zamboanga Peninsula.

This year, a 13-year old exemplary Pantawid child hailing from the municipality of Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur, Jhonn Rey L. Wayco, represents region IX for the national search for Exemplary Pantawid Children 2017 as part of the highlights of the congress.

Wayco was named as the regional champion for Exemplary Pantawid Children in Zamboanga Peninsula last July in which he bested 3 other provincial contenders representing Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, and the cluster of Zamboanga/Isabela City namely Krizle Joy Corpuz, Mary Maica Nicole Elnasin and RJ Somosa, respectively, who are also participants of the NCC.

For the past five years, the NCC has served as a venue to promote the spirit of patriotism among children and the youth by encouraging their involvement in nation building.

Through the NCC, participants identify pressing issues which they believe affect them, and they then provide policy recommendations on the same

“The children of today are more aware of issues that deeply concern them and affect their well-being. They are capable of engaging in actions and deliberations that lead to productive measures that aim to elevate the status of children in society. The recommendations the children will make will serve as valuable input which we will consider as we make more efforts to improve the programs and services of the 4Ps program and the Department itself,” said DSWD Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco.

In 2013, the results of the NCC led to the expansion of the program; one of the recommendations was for the 4Ps program to cover children up until they finish high school or reach the age of 18, whichever comes first. The original design of the program covered only children aged 14 and below.

With this year’s theme, “Mangarap Ka, Batang Pilipino”, the NCC hopes to incite inspiration for Filipino children to continue dreaming despite challenges they face in their respective families, communities, and in Philippine society as a whole.

“My dream is to become a lawyer someday. It may sound cliché but I want to prove to the people that justice is very much alive and there are people willing to serve in the name of fairness and equality. I want to be the voice of those who cannot speak, of the oppressed, and of those who cannot fight in fear of not being heard. I want to bring back the faith in the hearts of the people –the faith in humanity,” Wayco said in an interview.

Several personality-development workshops were prepared for the participants to help them as they explore their dreams for themselves, their family and the community, in general.

“Children from poor families are confronted with so many problems such as violence in the home and they are vulnerable to different forms of abuse. To help children overcome these challenges, the government and its agencies such as the DSWD exert effort to make support mechanisms and programs available to them. Our hope is to strengthen the spirit and will of children from poor families and marginalized sectors so that they can be empowered to fight for their dreams and one day realize them. We need to do all that we can to help Filipino children overcome the challenges of poverty so they can one day own their future roles as productive members of their communities and contribute to a better nation,” OIC Leyco concluded.

From left: Pitogo Municipal Link Vanessa Arbuiz, Maica Elnasin (Zambo del Norte), Krizle Joy Corpuz (Zambo Sibugay), Reynald Baguio (last year’s national champion for Exemplary Children from Dipolog, ZDN), Dipolo City Link Nimfa Tejero, RJ Somosa (Zamboanga City) and this year’s Region IX Exemplary Pantawid Child Jhonn Rey Wayco

The children-beneficiaries of 4Ps together with their City/Municipal Links and Pantawid Information Officers
during the pre-workshop activity of NCC

Last year’s national champion for Exemplary Pantawid Children, Reynald Baguio, and this year’s regional representative for the National Search for Exemplary Pantawid Children, Jhonn Rey Wayco, in a casual talk before their flight to Manila.

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ODA Assessment in Progress

The National Household Targeting Unit (NHTU) through its Regional Field Coordinator-9 (RFC), Michael D.S. Mustafa confirmed that the current On-demand Application (ODA) in Isabela City has already assessed 610 households as of September 29.

“Out of 1,645, our field staff has already evaluated 610 households. In fact, 403 household assessment forms were already forwarded to the office for verification and encoding,” Mustafa said.

According to him, out of the 21 identified barangays in Isabela City, only six barangays remain for the said assessment.

In addition, some of their target households were no longer in the areas identified. He said, “they could have already transferred to other barangays or somewhere else.”

Meanwhile, the NHTU is expecting to finish the assessment within the week as per press time.

NHTU conducts training for ODA Field Staff

Prior to the conduct of ODA in Isabela City, Basilan and Siasi, Sulu, the NHTU headed by Mustafa and BaSulTa RFC, Ben Nasser Isnain organized a 3-day orientation and training for the field staff last September 6-8 at the Jardin de La Vińa Hotel, Zamboanga City.

The said activity served as an “opportunity” to prepare the 11 newly hired workers for deployment in the aforementioned areas. To be specific, four enumerators will be in charged of the 21 barangays (more than 1,500 households) in Isabela City, while six enumerators and one area supervisor will be assigned to approximately 2,500 households in Siasi, Sulu.

The training highlighted a comprehensive discussion of the household enumeration. A series of sessions were conducted primarily aimed at preparing the field staff in the household assessment proper.

They were also oriented on the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) or the Listahanan, its objectives, and the four phases of the targeting system. Aside from these, they were also trained on how to correctly fill-out the forms to be used in the assessment to collect the needed information of the households they will visit.

Furthermore, their roles and responsibilities were also discussed including the Data Privacy Act of 2012, the concept of the Proxy Means Test (PMT), a statistical model used by the Listahanan in estimating household income using proxy variables indicated in the assessment forms, and administrative-related concerns were also addressed by the NHTU.

What’s Next After ODA

Upon the completion of ODA, the NHTU may finally come up with the regional profile of the poor. Likewise, its database of poor families may already be shared to different social protection stakeholders for purposes like planning, identification of potential beneficiaries for protective programs and services, validation, and research among others.

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After the 4-month delay in pay-out to the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Region IX, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have already disbursed a total amount of 1.2 billion pesos allocated for the 4 months compliance to the program’s conditionalities.

The said grant benefited more than 200,000 compliant Pantawid households across the region covering two periods. As per database, Pantawid Pamilya has a total of 289,755 household beneficiaries in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula under the Regular Conditional Cash Transfer (RCCT) program.

Meanwhile, P128,682,100 was disbursed by the department for the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program beneficiaries. MCCT beneficiaries are those households that belong to the Indigenous People (IP) sector.

The abovementioned figures are based on the consolidated report dated September 25, 2017.

On the other hand, DSWD has released a statement regarding the delay in payout in Isabela City.

“We all know that Landbank facilitates the payout of Pantawid Pamilya grants through a conduit. While the procurement of conduits for the City of Isabela is still in process, DSWD secures that beneficiaries continuously comply with the conditionalities of the program,” said DSWD-9 Regional Director Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo.

DSWD is set to conduct payout in various municipalities in the region within the month of October for period 3.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a social protection program of the national government under the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It invests in health and education of poor households especially of children aged 18 and below.

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After 4 months delay in pay-out to the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program beneficiaries, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will conduct a series of disbursement activities in Zamboanga Peninsula.

The pay-out is set to be conducted from August 29 until September 22 this year. This will cover periods 1 and 2 or 4 months equivalent of cash grant.

A total amount of 1,331,901,900 pesos will be disbursed to 481,178 households who have been compliant to the program’s conditionalities in the past 4 months to include some members of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program and retro payments.

However, the pay-out does not cover Isabela City due to its on-going bidding for the conduit that will facilitate the pay-out in areas of the mentioned city.

It can be recalled that the pay-out for the Over-The-Counter (OTC) has been delayed for a few months while the beneficiaries who hold ATM cards continuously enjoy their grants which triggered alarm for the beneficiaries in OTC.

“The pay-out activities are done through our conduit and LandBank. It was due to it that we had delays in our pay-out. However, we assure the beneficiaries that they will definitely receive their grants for the months that they have complied with the conditionalities,” said DSWD-9 Regional Director, Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo.

Solamillo added that DSWD continuously improves its implementation of the program to serve its clients better.

Pantawid Pamilya is only one of the poverty reduction strategies of the national government implemented by the DSWD which focuses on human capital investment through provision of education and health cash grants including rice subsidy to eligible poor households with children 0-18 years old with the primary aim to break the inter-generational poverty cycle.

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