With the implementation of the Mandanas ruling this 2022, five towns in Catanduanes will now handle the Supplementary Feeding Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development as one of the functions it will devolve to local government units in the next three years.
The approach to devolution of the supplementary feeding program will be scaled down, with 1st to 4th class municipalities to implement it on their own while the program for 5th to 6th class towns will still be supported by DSWD, Regional Director Leo Quintilla said in a press conference last week.
In Catanduanes, only Virac is 1st class, followed by Caramoran and San Andres as 3rd class towns and Pandan and Viga as 4th class municipalities, with the other six LGUs as 5th class.
This will be followed in 2023 by the Assistance to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, and in 2024 by the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
Also set to be devolved to LGUs are the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), and two more welfare services.
On the other hand, the distribution of the social pension to indigent elderly and the centenarian program would be transitioned to the National Commission for the Senior Citizens.
Programs for distressed Overseas Filipino Workers would also be shifted to the newly created Department of Migrant Workers, with the DSWD central office’s technical team already conferring with the DMW on the matter.
What will be left to the DSWD will be its regulatory functions, the implementation of the child adoption law, disaster response and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
RD Quintilla said that the department has executed agreements with LGUs wherein it would transfer 4Ps case folders to the local governments, which will now follow up the status of beneficiary families so they would not slide back once they graduate from the program.
The role of the local governments is very critical, he stressed.
Last January 2022, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the DSWD signed Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2022-001 providing the guidelines in support of 4Ps, following the implementation of full devolution to LGUs this year pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 38 signed by President Duterte.
Under the DILG-DSWD JMC, LGUs with identified 4Ps beneficiaries are encouraged to include 4Ps-related programs and activities in the LGUs’ Annual Investment Program, Comprehensive Development Plan, and/or Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan; provision of appropriate programs, services, and interventions to vulnerable groups and sector within the 4Ps; assist in the assessment and ensure resolution of program concerns in coordination with the Pantawid Pamilya workforce; and, facilitate and address the identified supply-side gaps and concerns for health, nutrition, and education to enable beneficiaries to sustain the gains of the program, among others.
Director Quintilla said that once devolution transition to LGUs is completed, the budget for the programs with the DSWD will also be gone and the department would have to scale down its staff.
The DSWD is now ensuring the capacity building of its staff because once the scaling down is completed, it would be the LGUs who will hire additional staff.
“We are ensuring that the DSWD staff would be ready to apply and be accommodated in the LGUs, considering that they are already trained in the devolved programs, are familiar with the policies, and therefore can implement them,” he added.
While there is only one social welfare officer for every municipality, such is the volume of the devolved programs that each LGU would require more social workers and public development workers.