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Children and Women Friendly spaces kits for Makilala evacuees

LOOK:  Workers from DSWD FO XII turned over on Thursday, August 6, 2020 Children and Women Friendly Space Kits for hundreds of families affected by last year’s series of earthquakes still staying at evacuation centers in Makilala, North Cotabato. 

Despite the pandemic brought about by the coronavirus, aid continues to pour to North Cotabato residents severely affected and displaced by the natural disaster. 

The province was among the worst affected by the 6.6-magnitude quake that ripped through Mindanao, displacing more than 41 thousand families living in 68 evacuation centers.  (Photos by Kim Koli Jagonod / DSWD) 

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DSWD distributes cash aid to over 46K waitlisted SAP beneficiaries in Region 12 

Beneficiaries wait for their turn to receive their government cash assistance at the branch of M-Lhullier in Alabel, Sarangani Province. (Photo by AAA / DSWD

KORONADAL CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 12 (DSWD FO-12) has distributed the cash aid to more than 46 thousand waitlisted recipients of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) through digital payment centers across the region.

Citing the latest figures, Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, reported Monday around P 233,055,000 were disbursed by partner payment firms to 46,611 of the 89,868 target recipients since last week.

The agency earlier tapped financial service providers (FSP) such as Western Union, Cebuana, and M- Lhuillier financial service providers to hasten the payment of cash assistance for thousands of qualified clients in the region’s Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas.

“The distribution continues to those who have not yet received their assistance from the government,” Dir. Espejo said as he noted workers have been deployed to assist the beneficiaries and to address issues during the actual payouts.

“We appreciate the efforts of our partners for working with us on the ground,” he added.

The measure to speed up the distribution of cash aid came after the DSWD Central Office signed a memorandum of agreement with the FSPs and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Under the agreement, the Land Bank will serve as the “main depository bank” and will download funds to identified FSPs.  The Land Bank will transfer the fund into the FSPs funding accounts or in other financial institutions based on the instruction and payroll documents provided by the DSWD.

Qualified recipients with mobile numbers in their SAP forms are expected to receive messages either from the three payout centers to claim their subsidy. The local government units, on the other hand, will post in respective municipal and barangay level the lists of beneficiaries and the financial service providers where they can get their assistance.  (JBM / DSWD) 

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Jason finally comes home

Jason holds a box of food assistance he receives from DSWD. (Photo by HTE / DSWD)

SARANGANI PROVINCE—After two hours of walking from the verdant mountains of Sarangani, Jason (not his real name), 30, felt with mix feelings, immense excitement and loneliness meeting his daughter for the first time. From afar, he vividly heard the giggling of a curly-haired child in the small nipa hut at the top of the hill, amid the chirp of crickets. Heavily drenched and thrilled, he introduced himself with his sweetest smile and hugged her tight, “Jenny, Ako si Papa (I’m your father).” But a startled child heavily cried and struggled to escape from his father’s arm as if her life was in danger. 

“Kadto na ang isa sa pinakamasakit nga akong nabati. Dili ko kilala ug ayaw magduol sa akoa akong anak (That was one of the most painful moments. My daughter did not recognize me),” he said.

For nine years, Jason, a front leader of new people’s army (NPA), the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines that has been waging a Maoist-style insurgency against the government for more than 50 years, has mastered the skills of convincing many youth, in the destitute areas of southern Philippines beyond reach of government service, to be part of a new generation of communist fighters. But this time, he seemed failed to convince his own daughter to believe him. 

Jason, a second to the seven broods who belong to one of poorest of the poor families from a mountainous village of Cotabato Province, wanted to become a soldier but went underground as a left-wing activist after being convinced that their movements can be of great instrument in crushing poverty, despair, government misrule and the abysmal inequality and other societal injustices. 

Ideological entrapment

Being trapped in a different ideology is indeed self-justifying and can be desctructive, but worst is that it operates under the pretense of morality. It shapes one’s thought and actions in the community. 

Jason’s foray into the communist rebel movement started when he was asked to attend indoctrination session. His decision to join the NPA had been a boost to the group increasing the number of recruits, mostly in their 20s and 30s. He became a front leader in one of elite groups guarding the peripheries of Sarangani Province, Davao Del Sur and Davao Occidental. 

Jason, a rebel returnee in Sarangani Province. (Photo by HTE/ DSWD)

As a youth leader, born and raised in a village where government services can be barely felt, the twenty-one year old Jason was tasked for anti-government campaign, targeting those who believe that the government is inutile and failed to fulfill its mandates to its citizenry. 

“Akong ginasigurado nga masuko ang mga tao sa gobyerno ug ang pag-asa mao ang pagsulod sa kalihukan sa kabukiran (I always ensured that people hate the government and the only hope for change is to join guerilla movement),” Jason said.

Instead of holding pen and paper in school, as NPA guerilla, Jason lugged M16 rifles and grenade launchers. After three years, he became a front leader operating in Sarangani areas, with 86 members in the group. 

Believing that NPA has the “right” to impose the levy in its territory, he was involved in intensive collection of taxes needed for the movement to fund services for its communities. Refusal to pay such taxes led to attacks and other violent extremist activities.

“Ang strategy sa NPA kay i-trap ang mga miyembro para makahimo ug krimen, so wala ka na choice kung di magtago sa kabukiran,” (It was a strategy to trap members by pushing to commit crimes then leaving them with no choice to hide in the arm of movement forever) Jason explained.

There were moments that Jason thought of coming home to see his parents and siblings but as what they plead, family comes only after the organization. 

“Sa kadugayan, nangando’y ko ug normal nga kabuhi ug walay kahadlok,” (After years of armed struggle, I long for a normal life, without fear) Jason said.

“Nagsaka ko ug bukid kay sa gutom ug kapobrehon unya mas sobrang kagutom pa akong nabati sa kalihukan,” (Hunger and poverty made me decide to join guerilla movement but it was an unbearable experience of struggles that I experience).

Back to the Folds of the Law

When President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order 70, institutionalizing the whole-of-government approach in attaining peace by ending local communist armed conflict in the country, it was a turning point for Jason.

Dili naku gusto nga magpareho sa akoa akong anak,” (I don’t want my children to follow my footsteps) he said.

Jason married to his fellow NPA member and had two children. As what as he wanted to be with his children, he was left with no choice but to leave them to his parents.

“Kaya ko ang ginapabuhat sa kalihukan pero dili naku kaya makita akong mga anak nga walay kaugmaon,” (I can’t accept the idea that my children will have no future) Jason said. “Magdako akong mga anak nga dili ko kilala,”(I don’t want to  he said recalling that moment when it took more than one year before his daughter finally recognized him.

Jason wanted to be an example that there is life after an armed struggle, a peaceful and productive life awaiting for like him should he decide to surrender.

In the midst of pandemic, the government continues its campaign to convince those who have gone astray to start a new liberating life. For Jason, he finds the government’s sincerity in attaining lasting peace in the countryside.

New life Journey

After nine years of recruiting people to join revolution against the government, Jason convinced his followers to join him to finally wave a white flag. 

Jason, together with his wife and 30 other NPA members availed the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP. He underwent a month long de-radicalization program. 

Jason with his co-surrenderers availed the government package of services including such as housing, livelihood, health and education from various national government agencies as promised by President Duterte.

Jason is now helping the Philippine Army prevent other youths, through his life experience, from being lured by the false promises of the communist rebel movement.

He successfully convinced 80 out of 86 NPA members to surrender he used to lead before.

Today, Jason lives together with his wife and children. He can now hear the sweetest word, “Papa” from Jenny. After nine years, he finally comes home with a hope that he will create a wonderful of him and his family. 

“I am very positive about the effort of the government in curbing the communist insurgency under the leadership of President Duterte because of his strong adherence to democracy,” Jason ended. (HTE / DSWD)

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DSWD taps three payment firms to hasten cash aid distribution to waitlisted beneficiaries in Region 12  

A resident receives cash aid in Kidapawan, Sarangani Province. (Photo by JBM / DSWD)

KORONADAL CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 12 (DSWD FO-12) tapped three payment firms across the region to fast track the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) cash subsidies for waitlisted beneficiaries.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, said Monday the measure will hasten the payment of cash assistance for thousands of qualified clients in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas.

Region-wide, the financial service providers identified was STARPAY, a licensed and regulated Electronic Money Issuer (EMI) by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that will carry out the digital electronic disbursement of cash aid through Western Union, Cebuana and M- Lhuillier, according to Dir. Espejo. 

“Based on our timeline, the payouts will begin tomorrow. We thank our partners in the local government units for their support,” Dir. Espejo said.

Citing data from the protective services division, assistant regional director Bonifacio Selma Jr. said around 47,492 qualified heads of families were identified to be recipients of the cash assistance.

Of the total figure, Selma said 24, 880 beneficiaries with mobile numbers should expect to receive a message from any of the three payout centers where they can claim their money. In addition, the LGUs will post in their respective municipal and barangay level the lists of beneficiaries and the financial service providers where they can get their assistance. 

The measure to speed up the distribution of cash aid came after the DSWD Central Office signed a memorandum of agreement with the FSPs and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Under the agreement, the Land Bank will serve as the “main depository bank” and will download funds to identified FSPs.  The Land Bank will transfer the fund into the FSPs funding accounts or in other financial institutions based on the instruction and payroll documents provided by the DSWD. (Reports from JBM / DSWD)

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29 centenarians in Region 12 get 100k each from DSWD

KORONADAL CITY — At least twenty-nine elders that reached 100 years of age were provided cash aid as they were honored by the government, a senior official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

DSWD-12 regional director Cezario Joel Espejo said Tuesday the centenarians across the region have been given felicitation signed by President Rodrigo Duterte and cash each worth P 100,000.

Dir. Espejo noted since January this year, the agency has stepped up the implementation of Republic Act No. 10868 or the “Centenarians Act of 2016” in the region. 

Under the law, all Filipinos who have reached the age of 100, whether residing in the country or abroad, shall receive a cash incentive of P100, 000 from the national government as a “centenarian gift”. Qualified elders are also entitled to awards and incentives from their respective city or municipality to be determined by the local government unit (LGU).

“If there are other elders who reach the age of 100, please coordinate with the LGU,” Dir. Espejo said, adding their immediate families can present either a birth certificate, passport, Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs ID, marriage certificate, or any ID that shows the centenarian’s birthday.

The absence of any of these documents, the birth certificate of the centenarian’s children can be presented to establish his or her age. (JBM / DSWD-12)

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DSWD continues distributing cash aid to waitlisted’ beneficiaries in Region-12 GIDA’s areas

Policemen secure the distribution of cash aid in the town of Kiamba, Sarangani Province. (Photo by JBM / DSWD)

KORONADAL CITY— The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office XII (DSWD FO XII) continued releasing the financial assistance for thousands of qualified waitlisted recipients in remote areas under the agency’s Social Amelioration Program.

This was announced Sunday by Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, who said that around 144, 364 families severely affected by the economic effects brought by the COVID-19 pandemic but were not able to receive the emergency subsidy assistance will be covered by the payouts.

Noting the lists were based on the submitted recommendations from local government units (LGUs) that were verified by the DSWD, Dir. Espejo said most of the recipients were located in the region’s Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas GIDA).

Since the start of distribution two weeks ago, the DSWD already provided over 93 million pesos to 18,719 families.

The cash aid was in line with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to include 5 million more low-income families who were left out in the distribution while parts of the country were still under modified enhanced community quarantine.

“Technically, we have no 2nd tranche. Those included in our left-out were qualified residents but were not able to receive the assistance,” Dir. Espejo said. 

Dir. Espejo said the region completed the first tranche of distribution, saying 50 LGUs completed their payout and submitted their liquidations.

“We adhere to the guidelines stipulated in the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2, S. of 2020 where the police and military will help in the distribution by providing security to our workers on the ground,” Dir. Espejo said.

“With the help of our partners, we hope to finish the payouts as soon as possible,” he added. (JBM / DSWD) 

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DSWD urges beneficiaries in Central Mindanao to register in ReliefAgad App

KORONADAL CITY— The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) urged Thursday its beneficiaries affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic across the region to register in the mobile app “ReliefAgad” which was created to fast track the distribution of state’s financial assistance.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, explained the app launched by the agency and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) late last month, that aside from expediting the distribution of government cash aid to residents severely affected by lockdown, it can also be used to ease other future transactions.

The App’s maker, Developers Connect Philippines (DEVCON), a group of information technology experts, specifically created the App to lessen the manual encoding of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) forms by the local government units (LGUs).

Moreover, it will cut the time to verify if a certain family is qualified or not for the financial assistance since it will need to scan the barcode of the beneficiary’s SAC forms. 

Dir. Espejo made the appeal amid the upcoming distribution of waitlisted SAP beneficiaries who are qualified but were not able to get the cash aid during the first tranche. 

“Let’s see the advantage on our side. The intention really is to encourage beneficiaries to open transaction accounts or activate the normal accounts before signing to ReliefAgad,” Dir. Espejo said, adding by signing in with the App users can also use it in paying other bills. 

To use the app, the beneficiary should input his/her information as they would through a physical form of the social amelioration card (SAC). The beneficiary, using his/her mobile phone, will then register to the ReliefAgad app website found at

Using the app, the beneficiary must scan the bar code found on the form. He/she will then register his/her information that is needed, as well as those of his/her household members.

Once the application is approved, the beneficiary will then be asked what is the preferred method of payment, whether cash that will be distributed by Department of Interior and Local Government, DSWD, or either GCash or PayMaya.

Regionwide, more than 100,000 families are included on DSWD’s database qualified to receive SAP assistance based on the lists submitted by the LGUs, according to Mr. Espejo.

“We need to finish the payouts for the waitlisted beneficiaries before the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act expires on June 25,” Dir. Espejo said as he clarified that families that were able to get SAP cash aid in the first tranche will not be included in the distribution since the region is now declared Modified General Community Quarantine.

The RA 11469 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 25, 2020 to ease the effects of lockdown imposed by authorities as part of hard-line measures to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. (DSWD)

Meanwhile, below is the process to register with ReliefAgad App.

Step 1. Gamit  ang  inyong  smartphone, pumunta sa website

Step 2. I-scan ang barcode na  makikita   sa   ibaba ng inyong SAC form

Step 3. Kung hindi ma-scan ang barcode,  mano-manong   ipasok   ang   numero ng barcode sa app

Step 4. I-enter ang  inyong personal na impormasyon

Step 5. I-enter ang   miyembro ng inyong   pamilya

Step 6. Piliin kung papano ninyo gusto matanggap ang cash assistance. (Tip). Kung pipiliin ang PayMaya, Gcash o bank account, direktang  matatanggap ninyo  ang  cash  assistance sa   inyong account  

Step 7. I-enter ang One Time Pin na  matatanggap  ninyo sa text message

Step 8. I-click ang submit

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DSWD: 20 SAP beneficiaries in Region 12 who claim multiple assistance formally charged in court

KORONADAL CITY – At least 20 residents across Central Mindanao who received multiple financial assistance under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Social Amelioration Program (SAP) were formally charged in court, a senior government official announced Tuesday.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 12 (CIDG-12) filed estafa through misrepresentation against six personalities from Sarangani; eight in North Cotabato; two in Sultan Kudarat and four in South Cotabato, for claiming multiple emergency subsidy assistance at the height of lockdown imposed by the government last month to cut the transmission of Coronavirus.  

Citing feedback from the CIDG 12 office, the charges, according to Dir. Espejo, were filed following the recommendation from the DSWD-12.

“We are going to endorse to the CIDG 12 for the filing of similar cases against other recipients found to have received double or multiple assistance from SAP,” Dir. Espejo said, without identifying the identities of those facing charges. 

The claimants allegedly violated the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469), a law 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 the coronavirus pandemic.

Since last month, the agency discovered 209 residents; despite receiving their SAP directly through their cash cards, claimed the assistance.

The controversies were discovered using the region’s locally developed application used to track and verify SAP beneficiaries, including their vital information such as names, photographs and their complete address.

The DSWD FO XII is currently conducting validation and cross-matching of 666, 411 poor families region-wide submitted by the local government units. The process allows the agency to track individuals who may have abused the government’s program worth P3.5 Billion in funds wired to local government units.

The SAP is a program where the agency is at the forefront to support authorities’ hard-line measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic by providing social services to the poor and severely-affected people. (JBM / DSWD) 

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