Soliman: We welcome ‘evidence-based criticism’

Jee Y. Geronimo
Soliman: We welcome ‘evidence-based criticism’
Saying the department also welcomes constructive engagement, the DSWD recognizes media practitioners who publish the 'most number of positive stories'

MANILA, Philippines – Hers is a department rocked by criticisms left and right, but Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said she doesn’t mind as long as these are “evidence-based.”

“I think what is important in a partnership is a candid, open, evidence-based criticism. Constructive engagement is what we welcome from all our partners,” Soliman said during the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) “PaNata Ko sa Bayan” Awards on Thursday, January 29.

In line with DSWD’s 64th anniversary, the “PaNata Ko sa Bayan” Awards recognize the efforts of individuals, groups, and organizations in creating “opportunities of empowerment, particularly for the poor and the vulnerable.”

Speaking to government officials, non-governmental organizations, and the media, Soliman said their partners may not always agree with them, but they still help the department “deliver faster, more effectively, [and] more efficiently.”

Positive stories

“Even if at times we may differ, and you will tell us that we differ; even if at times you have to tell us what we did wrong, we welcome that too. Even if at times you will have to tell us that you have seen a gap in our service – again, we welcome it,” she said in her keynote speech.

The awarding ceremony included the “Gawad Ulat” Awards for media practitioners who, Soliman said, have shown “true and fair reporting.” 

“It does not mean that they always have praises for us, but what we honor is their truth, is their fairness, and the promotion of the ideals of social welfare and social protection,” she explained. 

Four beat reporters were awarded for publishing the “most number of positive stories,” while ANC was cited for being the TV station that granted the most number of interviews to Soliman, allowing her to clarify issues. Other media awards included the following:

  • Most Supportive Newspaper – Philippine Star, Bulgar
  • Most Supportive TV Station – ABS-CBN News Channel
  • Most Supportive Radio Station DZMM, DWIZ, DZRH
  • Most Supportive Beat Reporters – Rainier Allan Ronda (Philippine Star), Ellalyn De Vera (Manila Bulletin), Julie Aurelio (Philippine Daily Inquirer), Leilani Junio (Philippines News Agency)

Controversial camp

Soliman’s speech came only two days after she appeared before the Senate to address the latest criticism against DSWD: a camp worth P4.8 million for 100 street families during the papal visit.

Around 427 individuals went to Chateau Royale Sports and Country Club in Nasugbu, Batangas from January 14 to 19 to be oriented on one of the department’s programs, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT).

The annual trip, Soliman said, was also meant to keep the families safe during the visit of Pope Francis. But after all the public clamor, the secretary said she regrets nothing.

“‘Di ko dapat pagsisihan dahil dati na naming ginagawa yun. Bahagi iyan ng programa ng Modified Conditional Cash Transfer, and therefore, we don’t see anything wrong that we have done,” she told reporters after Thursday’s awarding.

And though she had to defend her department’s decision multiple times, she said she sees a silver lining.

Ang positibo dito, pinag-uusapan, at marami ang nakakaunawa kung ano ang buhay ng pamilyang walang bahay sa lansangan, at ano ang dapat nating gawin,” Soliman added. (What’s positive here is that it is being talked about, and many people can understand what life is like for families who live in the streets, and what needs to be done.)

The department will submit the necessary documents required by the Senate on Friday, January 30. – Rappler.com

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.