In this picture taken January 2020 shows senior citizen wait to get their social pension in Koronadal City. (JBM / DSWD Photo)

KORONADAL CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced Tuesday a month-long suspension of program activities that require mass gathering of people,  a move to help in containing the growing spread of coronavirus in the country.

Citing the directive of Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, said the agency is temporarily suspending the payouts of Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens and Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT); Listahanan enumeration; activities of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) particularly the administration of Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI), over-the-counter pay-outs and distribution of cash cards; activities in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and  Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS); and service delivery assessments. 

Dir. Espejo explained the suspension effective immediately until April 14 following the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte placing the entire country under state of public health emergency, will minimize the exposure of beneficiaries from the threats of COVID-19.

Currently, the country has 142 confirmed cases of virus and 12 confirmed deaths. Globally, more than 160,000 cases have been confirmed and around 6,000 people have died of the disease in nearly 90 countries, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

“But we are not suspending other programs for the people. Those in need of medical and burial assistance can still avail under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program,” the director said, adding the agency will have its skeletal personnel in all AICS satellite offices tasked to assist the needs of our clients.

AICS is a program that serves as a social safety net or a stop-gap measure to support the recovery of individuals and families suffering from unexpected life events or crisis. 

The agency’s food and non-food items distribution will continue on condition the local government units, as frontliner in service delivery, will be provided with the necessary augmentation from the DSWD upon their request.

DSWD Centers and Residential Care Facilities (CRCFs) in the region will also continue its operations, though visits from family members and other guests will be regulated, and proper social distancing will be implemented. 

Meanwhile, the agency assured to provide tents to hospitals operating in the region for Covid-19 patients isolation area. (JBM / DSWD)