MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Tuesday confirmed Rex Gatchalian as the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda and Senator Grace Poe, whom Gatchalian both served as spokesperson, vouched for the capabilities of the former Valenzuela City mayor and congressman to head the DSWD.
“He knows the grassroots of being a local chief executive. He is able to communicate this very clearly and he really seems to have a very logical mind, if I am not mistaken. He’s focused on his job, at the same time he has compassion on the people being a mayor,” Legarda said during the CA proceedings.
In her manifestation speech, Poe said several of her colleagues were jubilant when President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. appointed Gatchalian in January.
“Mabait ka pero istrikto at organisado, may kakayanan. Gusto mong meron kang katalakayan at siguro nagbibigay ng suhestyon, opinyon na nagpapalawak din ng iyong pagkaunawa at kaisipan (You’re a nice man but also strict, organized and capable. You want to engage in discussions to gain suggestions and opinions that will increase your knowledge),” Poe said.
Poe also pointed out that even before it was a fad, Valenzuela was already implementing feeding programs and took the lead in making the city greener and more pedestrian-friendly.
"Impossible is not in his vocabulary,” Poe said. “He does not crack under pressure.”
Gatchalian vowed to focus on the DSWD mandate to end the cycle of poverty by strengthening the agency’s livelihood programs and implementing nutrition-specific programs especially in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.
“In Valenzuela, we found out that feeding or hunger should not be treated as a health issue, but rather an education issue. Hungry children will not learn in school and hungry children will not know how to read,” Gatchalian said.
“We want to make sure that every single social welfare that we launch should be targeted measurable, conditional and as a clear exit mechanism so that we don’t saddle the country with one dole-out program after another.”
Gatchalian said the DSWD will tap into the existing capacities of the private sector in partnership with the government to make sure the country will become disaster-prepared.
Asked by Senator Risa Hontiveros on the full implementation of the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act, Gatchalian said they had an initial meeting with the Department of Budget and Management and he was assured of available funds.
Poe said there is no better proof of Gatchalian’s leadership than his performance during the pandemic.
“As the frontliner-in-chief, Valenzuela City was able to rapidly distribute ayuda (aid), roll out Covid vaccines, and establish quarantine facilities. No wonder he received a 92-percent approval rating from his fellow Valenzuelaños,” Poe said.
“His success can be attributed to his eye for streamlining and innovation. He has a passion for trimming the fat and unclogging the arteries of bureaucracy. In fact, I don't think he has warmed his seat in the DSWD yet he has been busy slashing red tape, digitizing processes, and improving frontline services. Most importantly, Secretary Gatchalian is as humble, approachable, and genuine as the young man who campaigned for (my father) FPJ (Fernando Poe Jr.) in 2004.” (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)