AICS AT THE MALL. The Department of Social Welfare and Development has made its assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) more accessible by opening an action center at the GT Mall in Molo district last month. Since January this year, AICS has served about 56,000 clients. (Photo courtesy of DSWD FB page)

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) has released PHP356 million to about 56,000 people in Western Visayas since January this year.

A huge portion of the total cash assistance went to help victims of natural calamities, abuses, and pandemic-related problems, Joselito Estember, head of the Crisis Intervention Section of the DSWD in the region, said on Thursday.

In May, the crisis intervention team is in Negros Occidental to assist 45,000 beneficiaries, who are victims of flash floods in January.

“It is being scheduled depending on the health protocol of their local government unit,” he said in a phone interview.

For pandemic-related issues, DSWD has released PHP35 million for medical and burial assistance since January.

Meanwhile, the number of walk-in individuals seeking assistance from their office has declined from around 400 clients a day during pre-pandemic to around 200 this pandemic.

AICS caters to individuals and families in crises seeking assistance on medical and burial; transportation assistance for stranded Filipino citizens; and support to victims of abuse.

Estember said that taking into account the comfort of their clients and upon the approval of their central office, they have opened an action center at the GT Mall in this city’s Molo district while the renovation of their regional office is ongoing.

“Our clients who are already problematic are exposed to either heat of the sun or rain. So we decided to look for a venue that is more comfortable for our clients,” he said.

Clients with emergency cases usually only have to wait for around 15 minutes to have their assistance processed.

Those that require a guarantee letter and needing intensive assessment have to wait for a maximum of two hours for the approval of the regional management committee of the DSWD.

To decongest the volume of clients, those seeking assistance for maintenance are being referred to the Western Visayas Medical Center’s Malasakit Center in Mandurriao district where they also have assigned staff.

“They can also visit our SWAD (social welfare assistance development extension) offices in different provinces,” he added. (PNA)