DSWD AID. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian leads the distribution of social pension to 1,112 indigent senior citizens in Dapa town, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province on Wednesday (Feb. 8, 2023). The DSWD secretary also supervised the payout for 4,840 families in General Luna town under the Emergency Shelter Assistance program. (Photo courtesy of DSWD-13)

BUTUAN CITY – President Ferdinand R. Marcos wants relief goods ready and available in times of disaster, especially in remote areas.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian conveyed this as he led the Wednesday payout activities for the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) and the Social Pension Program for indigent senior citizens in the towns of General Luna and Dapa in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte province.

“President Marcos instructed me to ensure that relief goods and other immediate assistance must always be ready and available for the people, especially in the remotest areas in the country,” Gatchalian said during the distribution activity in General Luna.

To bring about the instruction of the President, Gatchalian said the DSWD will be working with the local government units to further improve and fast-track the relief operations of the agency.

At least 4,840 families whose houses were destroyed and damaged during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) in Dec. 2021 received their cash assistance through the ESA program.

Financial aid amounting to PHP10,000 were also given to each family who were not a recipient of the housing assistance program of the National Housing Authority (NHA) and PHP5,000 to those who benefited from the NHA program.

“The DSWD is here to help you and to supplement your needs for the repair of your houses, Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian believes that recovering from a widespread disaster, such as that of Typhoon Odette, is a gradual process that would take months or years to work on.

“Rest assured that you will be assisted towards full recovery and that does not end today, he said.

In Dapa municipality, Gatchalian also spearheaded the payout for the 1,112 indigent senior citizens under the DSWD’s social pension program.

Each beneficiary received PHP3,000 for their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

Gatchalian assured the senior citizens that the provision of pensions will continue even as the program is in transition with the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC).

He said the DSWD will work closely with the NCSC for the smooth transfer of the implementation of the Social Pension program from the agency to the Commission. (PNA)