MANILA, Philippines – Endorsement letters from public officials would no longer bear any weight on requests for assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
This is the goal Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo hopes to achieve in issuing Memorandum Circular Number 9.
In MC 9, Taguiwalo reminded all department staff in all its field offices that referral letters “from individuals, groups of individuals, or organization, including public officials whether national or local executives, legislators, members of the judiciary, or constitutional commission” are “not integral” to the implementation of its Protective Services Program (PSP).
PSP provides assistance to individuals, families and communities that are in crisis situations such as those affected by disasters.
Taguiwalo clarified that while these letters “may be considered,” these should not influence social workers or personnel who are evaluating the qualifications of beneficiaries.
To secure its personnel from threats, she ordered that cash transactions be done in DSWD offices. Those receiving threats and other forms of pressure are urged to report straight to the Office of the Secretary to be given the necessary protection.
‘Free from pork’
Seeking endorsement letters from public officials to help boost the chances of approval of a request for assistance has been a common practice in the country. This is a practice that was evident when the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was not yet abolished.
The old implementing guidelines of the program issued by former Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman specified that the beneficiaries of one component of the program should be a “constituent of a congressional district of any local government” that sought intervention from the DSWD.
Taguiwalo said the directive upholds the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision declaring the pork barrel is unconstitutional as her office has been receiving complaint on the PSP’s implementation in relation to the ruling.
Prior to the landmark ruling, the Commission on Audit conducted a special audit on PDAF use by lawmakers, and uncovered the PDAF scam, the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history involving the connivance of public officials and alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Under the scheme, millions in PDAF funds are siphoned by channeling them into ghost projects of bogus nongovernmental organizations. – Rappler.com