DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo
The two regional officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) who were relieved of their posts last week supposedly for asking too “many” documents from aid-seeking storm victims in Cavite province have been reinstated and cleared of any infraction.
READ: 2 DSWD execs sacked amid Paeng aid rollout
Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo, who earlier announced their removal in the media to address a town mayor’s complaint, ordered them back after an investigation showed that they were just following protocol.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DSWD said Barry Chua and Mylah Gatchalian returned to their posts on Friday as regional director and assistant director, respectively, of the DSWD-Calabarzon Field Office upon Tulfo’s orders.
Tulfo had also informed Mayor Dino Chua (no relations to Barry Chua) of Noveleta, Cavite, about the department’s “fair and impartial inquiry.” The probe “absolved” the two DSWD officials since they were just following the DSWD’s “existing guidelines,” the agency quoted the secretary as saying.
It was Mayor Chua’s complaint that prompted Tulfo to sack the two officials, citing the cases of storm evacuees in his town in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng” (international name: Nalgae).
The local government official said the regional DSWD office asked for too many documents from the calamity-stricken residents—such as a certificate of indigence and identification papers—before they could be given relief assistance.
Marlouie Sulima, head of the DSWD’s Social Marketing Service, said Tulfo “immediately” did a review of the agency’s policy on aid distribution because of the incident.
Tulfo has ordered the reduction of the requirements, doing away with the certificate of indigence, “for the faster processing of… assistance to anyone seeking help from the agency,” Sulima told reporters in a series of text messages.
“Now, residents who were listed by their respective LGUs (local government units) as victims of a calamity will only need to present one ID so they can get their assistance,” he added. In case there is no ID card or any other proof of identification, a beneficiary can ask for a barangay certification proving that he or she is on the list of calamity victims.
As a last resort, the DSWD may directly ask concerned barangay officials to confirm the identity of the aid seeker.
Under a DSWD program called Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), one beneficiary may get between P3,000 and P10,000 in cash aid, depending on the social workers’ assessment of the person’s situation.
Citing the results of the investigation, Tulfo said the two regional officials only asked for an ID from each typhoon-affected resident—not multiple documents, as reported by the mayor.
Tulfo also pointed out that requiring an ID was also in compliance with state auditing rules.