EXPANDING SERVICES. The Lingap Para sa Mahirap social welfare program of the Davao City government is being expanded to cater more people. On Thursday, Lingap program officer-in-charge Patrick Celis said the city government is set to open more satellite offices in 2023. (PNA photo by Christine Cudis)

DAVAO CITY – This city's primary social welfare program, the "Lingap Para sa Mahirap," needs to expand further to accommodate the rising number of claimants who seek financial support from the local government.

This was according to Patrick Celis, officer-in-charge of Lingap Para sa Mahirap, who sees the need to put up additional satellite offices by next year.

"We are now receiving at most 500 clients daily on an average across our four offices, definitely putting up more satellite offices will aid in providing efficient and fast service to the public," Celis said in a press conference here Thursday.

Since he took over the post in July last year, Celis said the office has already assisted 15,616 clients. By the next month, the number of claimants rose to 16,614.

Lingap Para sa Mahirap provides health assistance to clients for their hospital bill obligations, funeral or burial fees and medical needs.

The main office of Lingap is located at the Malasakit Center in Southern Philippines Medical Center. The four satellite offices in Toril, Marilog, Bunawan Proper and Paquibato District which were opened in 2021 have been busy catering to the increasing number of people experiencing financial constraints.

In 2021, the city government launched an online platform for requesting medical assistance under the Lingap Para sa Mahirap program, making it accessible and contactless for Dabawenyos.

Mayor Sebastian Duterte said in an earlier interview that since the city's population has ballooned through the years, the proposal to put up more Lingap offices would be necessary.

Duterte said the new offices should be located in strategic areas.

Although the city finances the program, beneficiaries can still avail of financial aid from other government offices who are sourcing their budgets from the national government such as the Office of the Vice President, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Department of Social Welfare and Development. (PNA)