In Tuesday's press conference in Malacanang, cabinet heads of the Duterte administration, including Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo discussed the government's ongoing relief efforts to reach out to families affected by Super Typhoon 'Lawin' in Northern and Central Luzon.
"We continue with our relief programs since there are still isolated areas that need to be reached, particularly in the Kalinga and Apayao areas. Our field office in Central Luzon is also on alert because water is now coming down from Northern Luzon to Central Luzon which is a catch basin," she said.
Aside from ongoing relief efforts, the Department is conducting intensive assessment and validation on partially and totally damaged houses so that the emergency shelter assistance (ESA) program can be implemented immediately.
"Tomorrow, our teams will be coming back from the affected areas to hold a meeting and debriefing to come up with plans for our interventions and assistance, and if necessary, personnel support from other regions," she added.
Sec. Taguiwalo explained that the ESA will prioritize the qualified poorest of the poor families and they will be given initial assistance of P5,000 to buy shelter reconstruction materials. Additional financial assistance will be provided once the DSWD team has finalized the assessment on the damaged houses.
In terms of improving the handling of relief goods, Sec. Taguiwalo assured the public that the DSWD will closely monitor the expiration dates of relief goods.
"Three months before the expiration dates of relief goods, the goods must be properly used in food-for-work programs or brought to different centers and institutions catering to vulnerable groups. I have already directed field offices to send monthly reports on the expiration of goods and their plans on how to use it productively," she said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary also clarified her stand on accepting donations and assistance from the private sector, individuals, organizations and foreign institutions, including governments.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that the Philippine government has enough funds for relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of Typhoons Karen and Lawin. She added that foreign aid is also welcome as long as they do not come with "conditions."
The DSWD chief stated that authorities are currently assessing the government's needs in terms of relief supplies and will get in touch with those who have offered aid once needs have been properly identified.
"We are grateful to friends, individuals, organizations and other private and public entities who are extending their hands to assist us in our disaster relief efforts. However, we need to continue to assess the situation on the grounds in order to know what type of assistance and how much is needed by our affected citizens. We want to base the type of assistance that we need based on the extent of our needs and without any conditions from donors," she clarified.
Lastly, she asked the public to continue to work with the government in reporting corruption inside the bureaucracy.
"We do not want any form of irregularity or corruption. The president is very clear about it so please work with us in eliminating corruption in the government," she concluded.
Source: Philippine Information Agency