In this picture shows DSWD field workers distribute assistance for decommissioned former Moro rebels in Maguindanao. (DSWD Photo)

KORONADAL CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced Monday to implement flexible working modes for its workforce, suspending its activities for a month as the nation tries to contain the spread of Covid-19 that has claimed the lives of 13 people and infected more than a hundred across the country. 

The latest directive, embodied in eight-page guidelines for the  prevention, control and mitigation of coronavirus virus spread signed and released by Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista effective March 15 until April 14, 2020, comes days after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed an emergency lockdown in the National Capital Region and A State of Public Health Emergency declaration throughout t the Philippines. 

“Cluster heads and Regional Directors will issue Special Order authorizing staff to work from home for all its employees but they have to submit their accomplishment reports to support the payment of their salaries,” a part of the guidelines read.

“All trainings, workshops, seminars, conferences, meetings, fora, ravels and any similar conduct that will involve mass gatherings shall be suspended. The Field Offices shall reschedule those actives upon the cessation of Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19-19,” the DSWD guidelines further  read.

Worldwide, more than 140,000 cases have been confirmed, including 140 in the Philippines and around 5,000 people have died of the disease in nearly 90 countries, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In statement, Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, however, defended despite its work from home, skeletal workforce and staggered working hours, provision of assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) will continue. 

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. 

“Senior citizen who will avail the program may be given assistance and may opt to send his/her healthy relative to claim assistance on his/her behalf at DSWD offices,” Dir. Espejo said.

“Cash assistance for fire victims and guarantee letters will continue but it should be held in evacuation centers,” he added.

At the same time, Dir. Espejo revealed the agency’s food and no-food items distribution will continue while the centers and residential care facilities will still accept visitors and family members provided its within the agency’s guidelines.  

“In our centers, social distancing must be observed. Our partners from the military and police  will deliver the food and non-food items to our local officials who will be in-charge of the distribution to clients,” he explained.

“On deployment of staff, our field social workers involved in payouts shall be provided with  personal protective equipment and they shall observe the proper camp management protocol,” Dir. Espejo stressed. (JBM / DSWD)