A social worker (unseen) hired by local government unit of Banga is seen during the distribution of Social Amelioration Program assistance. (JBM / DSWD Photo)

KORONADAL CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) kept its distance from the issue surrounding the municipal social welfare office in the town of Banga, South Cotabato where its chief executive recently sacked all its workers amid the implementation of Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, clarified that the employees transferred by local officials were locally hired and not part of the agency’s workforce handling the SAP field monitoring.

The director made the clarification after Banga Mayor Albert Palencia issued a directive last week, transferring all the staff of his MSWDO to other offices. The transfer is an exclusive prerogative of the local government unit (LGU) and has no relation to DSWD.

“The affected workers are LGU employees and not DSWD employees,” Dir. Espejo said.

“There’s an internal issue with them,” he added, citing Mayor Palencia sent his administrator and human resource management officer over the weekend and assured the implementation of SAP will not be affected by the transfer.

Under RA No. 7160 or the Local Government Code, the DSWD devolved basic social services to the local government units. The law also mandates the agency to provide assistance to LGUs for the effective implementation of programs on the ground.

Dir. Espejo said that “There are a lot of misconception that the CSWDs/MSWDOs/PSWDOs are employees of the department. This is far from the truth. In fact, LGUs have employed their own social workers under the local social welfare and development office. The controversy in Banga has no connection to DSWD as portrayed in some media reports.

The SAP is an intervention handled by the DSWD under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 25, 2020 to ease the effects of enhanced community quarantine imposed by authorities as part of hard-line measures to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

Based on the latest data from the region tracker, around 491,719 families across the region have availed the the government’s emergency subsidy allowance since last mont.

Dir. Espejo also said 14 municipalities, Bagumbayan, Columbio, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Kalamansig, Tacurong City and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat; Malungon, Maitum, Kiamba, and Maasim in Sarangani Province have completed the distribution of SAP financial assistance to its constituents. 

The towns of Alamada, Banisilan, Libungan and Aleosan in North Cotabato, also finished their distribution of assistance over the weekend. (AAA, HTE / DSWD)