May 19, 2024

The Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera wants its anti-poverty programs shielded from politicians who might use these to boost their image this election season.
This is the essence of the memorandum of agreement the DSWD signed with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Commission on Elections to implement the anti-epal campaign that aims to prevent the DSWD’s social protection programs from being used for political purposes.
DSWD-Cordillera Director Arnel Garcia said the region has become the model of this initiative, which is also supported by the Regional Development Council-Cordillera.
Among other declarations; the MOA, which the DSWD hopes to be also signed by candidates through a pledge of commitment; provides that the candidates will never attempt to mislead or misinform the public and the (DSWD) beneficiaries through falsified, altered, or manipulated information to promote their personal gains.
Garcia said the Cordillera is the first in the country to implement the anti-epal initiative covering all of DSWD’s social protection programs.
The anti-epal campaign also covers other agencies, including local government units that are implementing the DSWD’s anti-poverty programs.
Garcia said the DSWD initiated the campaign to protect its anti-poverty programs from being used in political campaigns.
“The DSWD and its programs are non-partisan; (these have) no political color. We do not want candidates to use our social protection programs to campaign and attract votes,” Garcia said.
The DSWD’s social protection programs are the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program, and the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Program.
The anti-epal campaign also seeks to strengthen the DSWD’s resolve that although politicians may recommend households as beneficiaries of its programs, the decision on whether or not the household is qualified is with the agency, upon assessment and evaluation.
“Politicians, or anybody can refer for assessment indigent beneficiaries to the DSWD, but they should not use this to boost a politician’s image, especially this campaign season,” Garcia said.
He said potential and existing beneficiaries of DSWD’s anti-poverty programs should not believe in claims that they will not be included or they will be delisted if they do not vote for a certain politician, like what happened in the Pantawid where some incumbent officials threatened their constituents that they will be removed from the program.
“Only the DSWD secretary and the regional director can remove beneficiaries from the list,” Garcia said.
He encouraged the public to report to the DSWD, the DILG, or Comelec politicians using anti-poverty programs in their campaign or those claiming that the assistance they extend to the people through the government social protection programs are initiatives of politicians.
As the anti-epal campaign earned the support of the Regional Development Council, Garcia said the initiative will not only cover the 2022 elections, but also the succeeding political exercises.
“We want this to be institutionalized because I am positive that this anti-epal campaign will be successful in the region. Other regions are looking at us for replication,” Garcia said.
He added the DSWD regional office is also expecting a circular from its central office for other areas to replicate the Cordillera’s anti-epal initiative. – Jane B. Cadalig