DSWD seeks full package for Oplan Pag-Abot clients from gov’t agencies

By Zaldy De Layola

January 31, 2024, 8:36 pm

<p>Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has sought a more comprehensive package of services and interventions for families and individuals in street situations (FISS) from key government agencies.

Gatchalian made this call during the 1st Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) meeting for Oplan Pag-Abot held at the DSWD Central Office on Tuesday in line with the objectives of Executive Order (EO) 52 to further enhance and unify the delivery of services to vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors in street situations through the provision of social safety nets.

“They (families and individuals) are in the streets because the state fails them. Now, it is time for us to make up for our shortcomings, tayo (we), the state, by providing them with the necessary social protection that they need and we really need your help with it,” he told the member agencies.

On Jan. 18, Malacañang issued EO 52, which institutionalizes and expands the DSWD’s Oplan Pag-Abot by creating an IAC that will lead the conduct of reach-out operations. The DSWD secretary chairs the body with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) head as the vice chair.

Gatchalian said the DSWD would particularly need assistance and support from the member agencies in providing post-reach-out care services to the assisted clients who are exposed to hazards and abuses.

“What we are thinking as support from other agencies will be the after care, especially if we bring them to the provinces. You might have other ‘in kind’ support that you can help us with,” Gatchalian pointed out.

“We are planning to tighten a package together with all of you, a comprehensive package of aftercare for them, whether you help them farm or start a business."

Gatchalian explained to the member agencies the actions taken by the Oplan Pag-Abot teams after the reach-out operations.

“One, transitory, we put them in our care facilities. Two, kapag iyong pamilya nila nandiyan (if their families are there), we reintegrate them into their families. Three, we bring them to their provinces but with the right economic grants,” he said.

Through the Oplan Pag-Abot, the reached-out individuals who used to live on the streets are provided with various interventions, including medical help, food aid, transportation and relocation assistance, livelihood opportunities, transitory family support packages, and emergency financial and transitory shelter assistance.

Unlike other known rescue operations, Oplan Pag-Abot is not by force. The DSWD chief said they used to convince them, until they yield to come with the social workers and that’s the main thrust, which is right-based approach, he added.

“It is also technology-driven. Every single person who comes with us, bina-biometric namin (we subject them to biometrics) and it goes into the Pag-abot database,” he said.

Gatchalian said the program has recently rolled out an e-profiling tool that uses a tablet-based application featuring a geo-tagging function that enables the Oplan Pag-Abot teams to easily locate and assist individuals and families in street situations.

Officials from member agencies who attended the IAC meeting were Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Dr. Francis Cesar Bringas, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Dominic Tolentino, Department of Agriculture Director U-Nicols Manalo, Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Deputy Administrator Ray Elevazo, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Executive Director Floramel Joy Songsong.

Representatives of the other member agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), DILG, and the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) were also present. (PNA)