Press Release
September 20, 2023

Questions of Senator Risa Hontiveros at the DSWD budget hearing

On supplementary feeding program

Senator Risa Hontiveros (SRH): Madame Chair, I'm glad to know that the department's supplementary feeding program for children in child development centers and supervised neighborhood play uses healthy and locally-produced food.

In relation to this, gusto ko sana malaman kung yung mga raw ingredients na ginagamit sa mga meals tulad ng isda, manok at iba pang meat products, siyempre bigas, gulay at iba pang produce ay sourced directly sa ating mga local farmers. Batay nga po ito sa mandato na pino-provide ng Sagip Saka Act kung saan explicitly sinasabi na bilang suporta sa ating mga farmer at fisherfolk enterprise development, ang mga government agencies ay diretsong bibili ng agricultural and fishery products mula sa accredited farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives.

At kaugnay niyan, gusto kong hilingin Madame Chair, isumite sa ating komite yung listahan ng suppliers para sa feeding program, partikular mga suppliers ng magsasaka at mangingisda, Madame Chair.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, two points. First of all, one of the reasons why our small farming coops refused to join a lot of our regional bids was that regime na sometimes some of our regional offices refuse to acknowledge their tax exemptions. So one thing, admittedly, when we walked in was to reiterate that they are tax exempt. So we will furnish the committee our action on that. It's a memo that came out of our office when I was new in the department to advice our regional offices, look, these coops are tax exempt. That will give them a competitive advantage in joining regional bids.

Second, we've also been encouraging... Now let's talk about the supplemental feeding program, Madame Chair. There are two ways of doing it: One is regionally procured, the other one is downloading to the LGU. We have always been advocating downloading to LGU. Why? Because they know their clients very well. And two, there is so much incentive for our LGUs to buy from their local farmers.

Now, I'll give you the statistics and we'll also give this to the committee. When we started, ang regionally procured natin, actually last year, of the 1,509 implementers of the supplemental feeding program, ang regionally procured, meaning DSWD region is procuring it -- 744 and then 765 ang local government procured.

But it doesn't mean na pagka regionally procured, we don't buy from our farmers as well. Case in point, in Regions 9 and 11, our regional office procured the rice locally. In Region 12, it's everything: Eggs, chicken, fish, dried fish, so on and so forth, and we will give you the necessary details. Region 9, again buys their other produce there.

But again, ang nagiging problema po, Madame Chair, pagka regionally procured is you can imagine this: A regional office will buy for so many LGUs the goods. And then we will now be sending the goods to the different LGUs. The spoilage, the wastage, the logistical issues will be a nightmare. So we've been encouraging slowly the LGUs to take on the challenge. One, they know their constituents well. Two, there's incentive for them to take care of their farmers and their fisherfolk because botante nila yun. And three, the logistics is lessened pag sila na yung bumili.

So the good news this year is our regional procurement is down to 660 and our LGU transfers is up to 872. The ultimate goal here is mapababa pa tong regionally procured so that we just transfer the money to our LGUs, they buy from their local farmers, they buy from their fishers, and yung wastage, kasi Madame Chair, it's very hard for us to be doing the regional procurement and transferring all the goods to the LGUs.

So those are the two points that we wanted to raise to further strengthen procurement to our small farmers, fishermen through their representative agri coops.

On implementation of Sagip Saka Act

SRH: Salamat, good secretary, Madame Chair. Magandang nalaman namin at malaman ng publiko na mukhang may best practice yung Region 12 procuring everything from their local agricultural producers. At sumusunod sa kanila yung Regions 9 and 11. Sana ma-communicate din ito sa ibang mga regions, regional offices ng mga department para pwede nilang sundin din itong best practices.

And yes, I'll also await with anticipation yung kopya ng memo from central office reiterating na tax exempt nga po yung status ng mga agricultural cooperatives.

Also, speaking of exemptions Madame Chair, for the purposes of the Sagip Saka Act, exempted din yung procurement ng agricultural at saka fishery products ng government agencies kung as part of their regular mandates, exempt din sa bidding process provided yung said agencies ay maga-undergo ng negotiated procurement sa ilalim ng applicable guidelines ng Government Procurement Policy Board.

So baka po sa pag-reiterate ng content ng memo tungkol sa tax exempt status ng mga agricultural coops, pwede ring ipaalala yung offices under the DSWD at yung partner LGUs ng department tungkol doon sa GPPB applicable guidelines. Basta mag-negotiated procurement sa ilalim ng guidelines na iyon, exempt doon sa bidding process. Para mas mapalawak pa at mapalaki yung paggamit noong Sagip Saka Law for the supplementary feeding program of the department, Madame Chair.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, the undersecretary for our general services is here. He will take note and blast off a memo again to remind our regional offices that not only are they tax exempt, itong mga agri coop, but they can also go into negotiated procurement.

But again, Madame Chair, let me emphasize that regionally procured kasi is hard in the sense na we buy the goods then we ship the goods to LGUs on a regular basis for their feeding program. Eggs get damaged, produce gets spoiled. So malaki rin yung spoilage. So we're really reiterating na we're empowering our LGUs to hopefully procure on their own.

Madame Chair, I would also want to point out, since we're talking about feeding, our desire from the department, again to put it on record, that the budget for the feeding program is only at P15 per head. But with the kind help of the chairman, we were able to put it up to P21. What we really want to do to end naman wasting and severely wasting in the ranks of our daycare students, we really have to hopefully as for an augmentation to raise it up to P27. I don't think P15 or P21 is enough. So again, for the record, we would like to reiterate our desire or request to augment the school feeding program budget.

Senator Imee Marcos: Yes, that's well taken. And if I may add to Senator Hontiveros' observation, in fact what is being utilized is the community procurement proviso in the GPPB which is actually more liberal than Sagip Saka. And this allows almost any type of community procurement, provided it's adequately documents for the GPPB and the DBM's purposes.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, further to the question of Senator Hontiveros. The department is also the main leader of the main steering agency for the EPAHP. It's the anti-hunger program of the government. One of the main thrusts of EPAHP is to create what we call the community-based- strengthening our community-based organizations, lalong-lalo na sa agri sector. And then we link them up with government contracts, not just in DSWD, but in the other EPAHP agencies that are part, which is everybody naman.

These CBOs, they call them community-based organizations, are agri coops, farmer's coops, fisher coops. For the record, there are 421 of them that we have already linked to marketplaces in the government setup. For 2022 or 2023, close to P369 million worth of government contracts have been linked up to these CBOs or these agri-based CBOs.

The EPAHP, bagamat hindi lang siya sa school-feeding program is still a mandate of the department and we'll take a more aggressive stance in linking our CBOs with our different government agencies so they can secure various government contracts for their produce.

On Socorro cult victims

SRH: Thank you, Madame Chair and good secretary. I think that's a good beginning na may magnitude na siya ng P369 million. Of course, that's less than 10% yet of the P4 billion budget for the supplementary feeding program. So magandang kasabay ng pag-challenge sa LGUs o pag-encourage, eh pag-encourage din ng department sa mga community organizations to also step up.

And well-taken yung point ng chair. I guess, sa patuloy din naming pakikipagugnayan sa mga LGU partners din ng department, we'll really encourage them to maximize participation both in the implementation of the Sagip Saka Act and the community procurement process. So salamat, Madame Chair.

So balikan ko po yung unang tanong ko sana. Since nabanggit ko nga po, Secretary, and I wish to reiterate: I thank the department doon sa maagang action ng Municipal Social Welfare Development officer ng Socorro, Surigao del Norte. And then kahapon lang salamat na nakipag-ugnayan ang isang taga-DSWD sa legis ko para moving forward, paano talaga, well, mailigtas yung mga batang tumakas doon sa kulto doon sa Mount Kapihan.

Nasusubaybayan po ba, Madame Chair, ng department yung mga tao sa Socorro? Kasi lumabas po doon sa mga testimony, kinukuha daw ang halos o higit sa kalhati ng ayuda nila noong binanggit po yung 4Ps, binanggit po yung disaster ayuda, binanggit pati yung AICS. So kung totoo yun, practically gobyerno ang nagpopondo sa kulto.

So nasusubaybayan po ba ito and may initial thoughts ba ang department paano ito pipigilin at iko-correct moving forward?

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, as a matter of practice, what is for the beneficiary is for the beneficiary. It's against the creed of the department when may tumabas, no matter kung sino man yan. No government official, no private individual can take what is given directly to the beneficiary.

We have taken stock of the privilege speech of the good senator, Madame Chair, and we took inventory immediately of how many 4Ps households we have there. But obviously, these are initial numbers kasi it could not be in just one sitio but in more sitios. In Sitio Kapihan, for example, we have 74 households na 4Ps beneficiaries. In that barangay itself, Barangay Siring, we have 503 households.

What we will do immediately and the undersecretary for 4Ps is beside me, she's a registered social worker and one of our senior social workers. We've already spoken about getting our city links and our municipal links to pry into the well-being of these 4Ps beneficiaries in that area.

Likewise, the undersecretary of operations is beside me, Undersecretary Pinky. Whenever we get allegations of AICS misuse, we take it seriously. And even here in the central office, in any of our field office. She has already directed the regional director to look into the AICS track distribution in that area. We will look into the beneficiaries of AICS in that region, particularly zeroing in on those barangays, sitios that are in the peripheral of the site. And then we can do backtracking and our standard investigation tracks also.

Again, we will immediately copy furnish the office of the committee as well as the office of the good senator on the findings of the 4Ps as well as the AICS clusters.

On delisting of 4Ps beneficiaries

SRH: Maraming salamat para doon, good secretary, Madame Chair. It's really good to know na both in terms of the welfare of the children victim-survivors at yung sabi niyo nga welfare of the beneficiaries of government social protection programs, sinimulan na ng department alamin yun. And I fully expect will take corrective action kung mayroon talagang mapatunayang misuse of these programs and of these funds. Salamat po.

So onto the 4Ps, Madame Chair, in the House budget deliberation, the good secretary mentioned that the cleansing of the list has resulted in the low utilization rate of the 4Ps funding. At the same time, COA flagged duplicate names of 4Ps beneficiaries in 2020 and 2021. It also said that six out of 10 qualified beneficiaries are not in the DSWD database.

So yung unang tanong ko po, Madame Chair, the delisting of 4Ps beneficiaries has been met with much disapproval from the sector. However, the department has imposed a moratorium on the delisting process, which is a welcome development especially for many who have not recovered from the pandemic.

So maari po bang malaman ilan ang na-delist bago dinesisyunan ng departamento na i-put on hold yung delisting at saka din po yung criteria na ginamit sa pag-assess ng status ng beneficiaries. Ibig sabihin, anong mga parameters ang ginamit para i-consider silang ineligible para sa assistance, Madame Chair.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, to answer that, I may sound long-winded about this.. But it's a long story that took me seven months to fully understand. And I will try to cram it in a good five minutes. We have to look at the full context of the story. Saan ba nagsimula ang problema? Bakit nagkaproblema? Ano ang solusyon na ginawa?

Una po sa lahat, 2019 nung ginawa yung Listahanan all the way to 2020. This is the COVID years. So ang naging unang problema po diyan, yung non-poor na roughly 700,000, at that time 700,000 were rated as non-poor already. Baka noong mga panahon na yun po, hindi na sila poor. But right after the lockdown, they came back and said nagging poor ho kami kasi nag-iba yung status ng buhay namin. So we have a pool of 700,000, roughly. We already furnished the committee with more detailed numbers, but let me round off the numbers for easy reference. And then there's another pool of 700,000 na hindi na-assess at all because the enumerators could not go out anymore dahil nag-lockdown na eh. So we're looking at close to around 1.4 million potential delistings.

Now, succeedingly, the department wanted to reassess all of them but there were no budgetary allocations for the enumerators to go out. So when Secretary Tulfo, pagdating ng 2023 this year, he had the good sense to immediately instruct a special reassessment. Last year up to this year, siya ho nagsimula ng reassessment because nag-worry siya na ang laki noong mga porsyento na natatanggal. So he had that good instinct to do it immediately. And when I walked in, kaka-roll in lang, nagsa-start pa lang yung reassessment.

So immediately also, when we were looking at the data in big chunks, close to 70% were being delisted. So ibig sabihin seven out of 10. We figured there must be something wrong. So we consulted poverty experts like Dennis Mapa- The reason why we consulted him was he was around when they were creating the proxy means test. They were the consultant of the department during those years. So alam nila, they could troubleshoot it for us. Kasi parang we were using the same tool, but we were getting so many delisting. So ang sagot nga namin, baka nag-iba na yung mukha ng kahirapan, di na naka-capture ng proxy means test. So we immediately put a stop ulit. We told them, okay let's put a moratorium. Nobody gets delisted first. So that answers the first part of the question.

Now, how do we move forward? The steering committee agreed that we use one tool that was developed years ago, it's called the SWDI -- the Social Welfare and Development Indicator. We will furnish the committee as well the copy of the SWDI. It's a proxy means test with a heart. Yan ang favorite line ko. Si proxy means test kasi is pure table computations and a lot of statisticians are saying nga that it's blind. Tama naman. In creating these types of target tools, dapat blind siya. But it may no longer have been calibrated to look at the following: Poverty after COVID, poverty driven by climate change.

What do I say? I'll give an example po. In the proxy means test, pag konkreto na yung bahay mo, tanggal ka na kaagad. But in some cases, in Valenzuela, in low-lying areas, adaptive nila yung mag-konkreto ng bahay. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nag-konkreto sila ay mayaman na sila. So the SWDI takes into account these- Uso siya kasi it's the social workers that are using it. So this will now be are new basis.

The reason being bakit ang bagal namin hong mag-disburse ng 4Ps na grants, is because we put a stop muna, we take stock of the delisting and then we will reincorporate them back into the list with a retroactive, we're studying that, effect. But Madame Chair, the SWDI process was started last month and we're almost done. By the end of September, we would get our final results. But off the bat, right now- Madame Chair, here nabaligtad ho. The initial results were almost 99% done, 70-30 in favor of poverty, meaning mas marami nang nare-retain. Unlike noong una, mas maraming naalis on that same ratio. Because nga, suddenly the tool that we're using will take into account different levels of poverty that happened after COVID.

SRH: Thank you very much, good secretary, Madame Chair. Nasagot niyo na yung susunod ko sanang tanong na paki-elaborate na higit pa sa klase ng reassessment na ina-undergo ng department that led to declaring the moratorium.

So that's pre-SWDI, noong napansin ninyo na something must be wrong with the original proxy means test. So 700,000 na non-poor, pero 700,000 na not assessed. Siyempre, kung not assessed, di natin alam kung in-assess nga silang poor o qualified participants sa 4Ps. And I look forward sa final results niyo by the end of the month lalo na dahil yung trend ng current results ninyo ngayon ay parang 70% in favor pa of retention or continuous participation in the program. And isa sa pinaka-interesting yung binanggit ng good secretary na the department is even studying relisting, if I heard it correctly, some who may have been delisted under the previous test.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, good senator, yes. Because we're looking at the angle of force majeure. It's in the implementing rules, we're still studying it. Kasi hindi ho nila kasalanan na may nangyari ho kaya hindi sila naka-capture correctly. Although we're still studying it carefully to make sure that we don't violate any regulatory trappings. But again, in social protection, we don't blame the beneficiary. There is a kink in the tool that the department used that also got misaligned because of COVID. Nag-iba ang mukha ng kahirapan pagtapos ho ng COVID, nag-iiba ang mukha ng kahirapan dahil sa climate change. So these are things the department is already looking at for the next couple of year with CBMS coming into the picture and mawawala na yung Listahanan. These are things that we are studying carefully with PSA as well as with other poverty experts like Secretary Balisacan on how we can come up with another targeting tool for entry and exit of the program.

SRH: Thank you, secretary, Madame Chair. And I appreciate na yung department, ayaw niya mag-duplicate ng mga tools or instruments at gustong mag- in a way synchronize with other tools and instruments na ginagamit ng gobyerno as a whole.

I understand that if delisting continues, just as a regular course of the program, those who will be delisted will be replaced by those in the waiting list. So ilan po ang nakapila sa waiting list na ito at sa listahang ito, ilan po ba ang mga bagong enrollees? Dati akala ko, isang source lang ng mga bagong enrollees yung mga bagong magka-qualify as poor or new poor. Pero apparently, dahil magshi-shift sa isang mas tingin ng department maayos na instrument, sabi niyo nga a tool or a test with a heart, baka may mga reinstate dahil nga hindi naman nila kasalanan yung orce majeure na COVID at climate change event. So but overall, whether from new beneficiaries or previous beneficiaries who were delisted but should not have been delisted, or who are reassessed differently now, ilan po ang nakapila sa waiting list at sa mga ito, ilan po yung mga bagong enrollees?

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, unfortunately we don't have that figure right now because it's still being finalized. But allow us to submit it to the committee when we do finalize the figure. But just to give you a hierarchical approach to it, we haven't entertained any of the waitlisted because nga we're waiting to finish the reassessment and the pool of 1.4 [million.] So once we're done with that, we will know ano pa yung kulang namin and pupunuin namin. Because the GAA provision explicitly provides 4.4 [million] as well as in the Philippine Development Plan. There's always that notion of 4.4 [million,] that is the magic number. So kung ano ang kakulangan noon, doon na lang ho namin kukunin sa waitlisted that we will furnish the committee.

SRH: Thank you, Madame Chair. And that would be instructive for us in the Senate or in the whole of Congress for moving forward the following years of the implementation of the 4Ps program. So thank you for that, Madame Chair.

My next question is on the status of the payouts to the beneficiaries in relation to the suspended delisting process. So dahil nagkaroon ng slow down sa distribution ng financial assistance, which was also noted upon by the good secretary doon sa House budget deliberation, since there was that slowdown, did the department halt payouts noong unang nagsimula yung delisting process, Madame Chair?

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, for the ones that were not in that pool of 1.4 [million,] the payouts continued. That's the numbers that are being moving right now in the report that we submitted. We obligated close to 30%- 31.41% at this point has been obligated. But the remainder, we expect, as we showed in the catchup plan, mahahabol ho natin yun because again, we are currently reviewing with our legal team on the retroactive effect for the 1.4 [million.] But if our notions are correct, by the time that we finish our catchup plan, 98% of the total budget- 94% of the total budget for 4Ps would have been obligated come end of the year towards early part of next year.

SRH: That's good to hear, Madame Chair. Dahil yung mga ganitong social protection programs proven not only in the Philippines kung saan yung mga anak ng mga 4Ps families ay nagtatapos sa senior high, marami sa kanya valedictorian, salutatorian. Galing. Yung mga ganoon, then they become scholars sa state colleges and universities and then they top the boards sa kanilang chosen professions. It's always good to hear na mataas yung target obligation rate by the time even adjustments like this delisting suspension and then reassessment are completed.

So again, the secretary has anticipated some of my follow-up questions. I know that the payouts continued at least for 31% at first, but eventually-

Sec. Gatchalian: The 31% is the finance performance. So meaning, 31% of the allocation for 4Ps which is close to P100 billion has been utilized already for those accounts na wala naman hong problema. But we'll keep on running it. But in the catchup plan that we submitted by towards the latter part of this year onto next year, because remember, the last pay period is in January, portions of it at leats, mahahabol namin all the way to 94%.

SRH: So again, Madame Chair, that's good. And I was asking because my office received information that many had not received their financial assistance since last year. So baka kasama doon sa 69% na kulang pa sa current obligation rate. On the other hand, there are also those who have received but not on a regular basis. So hopefully, lahat dito masasalo na doon sa 94% obligation rate by January na tina-target.

And nabanggit na rin ni secretary, tatanong ko sana kung yung mga mananatili sa program pagkatapos ng cleansing o reassessment process kung matatanggap nila yung benefits retroactively. And binanggit nga po ni secretary that there is that prospect.

Sec. Gatchalian: Personally, Madame Chair, I'm championing it. Because I believe in that school of thought in the department that force majeure itong nangyari and hindi nila kasalanan. But we're just going through the legal due diligence of it to make sure we don't violate any COA circulars or any provisions of the law either in the IRR oro explicitly in the law.

SRH: So kanina, napag-usapan natin yung mga anak ng 4Ps na nagtatapos with distinction, so let's talk about graduation. From the time the 4Ps started, 1.11 million households have already graduated from the program for various reasons. So sa bilang na ito, gusto kong malaman ilan sa kanila nag-graduate sa 4Ps dahil nag-improve ang buhay nila at ilan naman ang nag-graduate dahil lamang na-exhaust na nila yung maximum number of years na ina-allow ng programa.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, again, we will collate that data. Kasi the data that we have is only a snapshot of the current years. But what we will do is collate everything. The 4PS undersecretary is beside me right now. We will gladly furnish the committee the disaggregated data -- those that finished because of attrition and those that finished because of improvement in their life standards.

SRH: Maraming salamat para doon, Madame Chair. And pwede ko bang malaman if there's some sort of post-program monitoring mechanism na nagta-track noong development ng lahat nitong mga 4Ps families na nagtapos sa programa? Maybe even a kind of handover with other departments or NEDA ba as a whole or DBCC? Kasi maganda eh, dahil nag-improve yung buhay nila, nagtapos sa isang social protection program, and then talagang nagsa-succeed sa patuloy na pag-aaral sa trabaho, sa partisipasyon sa ekonomiya.

Sec. Gatchalian: Madame Chair, I've attended all these graduations of 4Ps both as city mayor and as secretary. Some of those unique graduations na kalahati malungkot, kalahati masaya. Yung malungkot, kasi gusto pa raw nila mag-stay sa program. Yung masaya, mayroon na silang mga anak na nakapagtapos.

But I cannot overemphasize always, and you might think I'm biased to LGUs because I come from the ranks of the LGUs. The turnover of the files are given to the LGUs. They know their constituents well and they'll be able to track it in a granular, micro level.

The 4Ps program kasi is saddled with so much expectations. Rightfully so, it's P100 billion, it's half of our budget of the department. But we also have to take note that it's meant to end poverty not just now, but intergenerational poverty. A lot of the columnists who have written about it were saying nga there are tell-tale signs of its success. Children are staying, cohort survival rate is high, children are staying in primary school longer. But you need more time to observe kung gumanda yung buhay nila.

And there's always a gap that I want to point out that Congressman Paul Daza has been pointing out with us in his committee and one of his advocacies. The gap between basic learning, high school and moving all the way to college. Now, one of the point of argument there is what happens after high school. The free higher education law has the TES component that should prioritize the grants for the ones that finish high school. Kasi kapag natapos ka na ng high school, wala ka nang school-age na anak na nasa high school, you'll get out of the program eh. And I would believe the vision of the framers, and some of them are in this room right now, are actually ang sasalo dapat yung TES na para continued learning sila sa kolehiyo all the way na makapag-trabaho sila whether it's vocational or college.

But in the hearing in the House, we keep on giving lists to CHED na saluhin nila yung mga batang grumaduate, but unfortunately we're only getting a small chunk of the allocation. Meaning, we tell them, ito na yung mga batang grumaduate, saluhin nila. Kasi for us to evaluate kung nag-iba ba yung buhay nitong mga pamilyang ito is if naputol ba yung intergenerational poverty.

SRH: Well, I'm only glad, Madame Chair, we're hearing the budget of DSWD, not DOF. Because I would keep faith with the secretary and hoping in the sustaining and the productivity and yung pagiging mabunga ng 4Ps program.

It's very interesting that the turnover of the files is indeed to the LGUs. So I think this is the question din that we who are monitoring the success and difficulties of the 4Ps program ay pwede din naming itanong at subaybayan with the DILG, the LGUs themselves, even the leaks. Development that's bottom-up.

Thank you for the secretary for pointing out that the CHED is another dialogue partner sa pagiging mabunga ng 4Ps program. Importante yung TES at hindi pa rin namin naresolba yung misteryo tungkol sa UNIFAST. But CHED we need to engage as a commission, as an institution.

For the record na lang, before I suspend my interpellation on this topic. Yung House Bill 8497 which seeks to add on an adult education component to the existing 4Ps law by way of three tracks. Pino-provide niya yung non-formal education sa pamamagitan ng alternative learning system, microenterprise skills training mula naman sa DTI at DSWD din, at saka yung mga programa nga na ino-offer ng TESDA.

(End of first round of questions)

(Start of second round of questions)

SRH: Ano yung sense ng department tungkol sa House Bill 8497 tungkol sa pagdagdag ng adult education component sa 4Ps by way of three tracks: Yung ALS, yung microenterprise skills training at saka yung TESDA?

Usec. Cabrera: Currently, we do not have adult education in its regular form. However, we have the family development sessions where we conduct lectures on microfinancing, parenting and other social issues that increase the group or that are needed. So we can provide also, we can submit the report where the DSWD's contents for family development sessions. I'm sure that much of the concerns are already covered in the family development sessions.

SRH: Salamat, Madam Chair Usec. Vilma siguro kahit in writing na rin lamang yung tinatantong ko ring anong tingin ng department sa House Bill 8497 kahit i nwriting na rin po through the chair.

Usec. Cabrera: Yes we will submit our position on this.

SRH: I just have one or two questions more on four other topics, so maybe 11 to 15 minutes or 10-15 minutes. Thank you, Chair.

On the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Law, two years after RA 11861 or the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Act was passed and the year after the IRRs were signed maaari po bang makakuha ng ilang feedback mula sa cdepatment tungkol sa status noong implementasyon ng batas halimabwa nakapagcoordinate na p o ba ang DSWD sa DILG at sa assistance din po ng DOTC sa pagestbalish at pagmentana ng centralized database ng solo parents?

Sec. Gatchalian: If you just allow me to pull down my notes quickly... Madam Chair for the update, all the member agencies have already drafted their guidelines which is for approval in the indivodual agencies and we will start consolidation all of those in a discussion on October 4, thereafter for the unified database it's already, data is already being harmonized by DILG and DSWD given it's coming from multiple government sources. One thing's for sure though is on September 25 we are, so that's in a couple of days, we are going to meet them, DILG and actively engage them in making sure that we come up with a harmonized national database as prescribed by law.

SRH: Thank you very much, Good Secretary. I also asked this question because DBM has already issued local budget memorandum number 87 last June 9 reminding the local chief executives and other relevant local personnel of their budgetary mandate since the law provides citizen municipalities shall allocate a montly cash subsidy of 1,000 earning minimum wage and below. Salamat, Secretary yun lang po on the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Law.

Sa National Authority on Child Care, kay Usec Janella, I had a couple of questions, pero nasagot na ying isa, dahilan kung saan nagkaproblema at hindi napunan pa yung mga plantilla positions so isa na lang na follow up question, paano nito naapektuhan an gtrabaho ng agency?

Usec. Janella Estrada (NACC): Actually ginagawa po namin ang lahat, we exhaust all efforts para maachieve namin ang GAA targets namin and as of now po, narireach naman po namin although talagang overworked na rin po yung aming mga social workers dahil kaunti lang po sila at hindi po namin, yun nga po, since naghahire pa lang po kami ngayon, hindi rin po namin alam kung saan sila ilalagay, Madam Chair.

SRH: Pero sa... ang update nyo sa amin sa Komite ay you are exerting all efforts, the Authority's exerting all efforts to reach the GAA targets. Is it, are you, is the authority reaching the GAA targets for 2023?

Usec. Estrada: Yes po. For domestic adoption, 97 order of adoption were issued fro mJanuary to August 2023, and for inter-country adoption, 79 children entrusted to foreign adoptive parents fro. January to August 2023.

SRH: Thank you very much, Usec Janella. Kung mayroon mang follow up, I can follow it up in writing through the Chair.

Moving on to just a couple of questions on social pension for senior citizens, so while I certainly advocate still for the universal social pension for our senior citizens, I'm happy to note as our Chair also told us when we were also working on what she sponsored successfully already about the centenarians law, that the just yesterday that the budgetary requirements for the social pension for indigent senior citizens has been achieved for fiscal year 2024.

So the amount of almost P50B covers for over 4 million indigent senior citizens. Maaari po bang malaman kung bukod doon sa 4.1. million indigent beneficiaries kung mayroon pa pong ibang indigent seniors na hindi pa nasama sa listahan, at kung mayroon, ilan sila at ano ang plano ng department para sa kanila?

Sec. Gatchalian: Madam Chair, like the good senator mentioned, we are also pushing, our position for unievrsal of the get-go I mentioned that to the chairman. The current wiatlist is close to half a million Filipinos. These are the ones who approached us, and I'm sure that local goverbnment units know of even more this is not relfective of what's on the ground.

SRH: And ano pong plano ng department ng halos half a million na iyopn?

Sec. Gatchalian: We use our different modalities like assistance to individual crisis situation, but it will be in a crisis situation. Unfortunately, there are no other mechanism in the department for a continued sustained social pension unless Congress will do so.

SRH: Tungkol pa rin po dito sa ating senior citizens, as I am delighted with the increase in senior citizen social pension it also comes with a hope that oit's distribution that it will encounter the most minimal of challenges, I know by virtue of RA 11350 that created the national commission of senior citizens, senior citizen related functions and prorgams of the department shall be transferred to the NCSC Maaari nyo bang ilahad sa Komite kung ano na ang status ng yransition ng mga programs at functions mula sa depatment papuntang NCSC by 2026, ang lapit na, kung November at by 2026, just two years after november then NSCS shall be in charge of running the social pension program. Paano po tinutulungan ng department ang NCSC na maghanda sa napakalaking trabahong ito?

Sec. Gatchalian: For the record, for 2022, 2023, even if the social pension is with us we will be able to do 100% pnbligation on that. Right now ,as we speak, it's at 74.52 they're paid semestrally, so the balance will be paid come end of the year but we are talking about NCSC we had numerous meetings with them.

In fact, I personally sought out the chairman when I was appointed and we gave them the engagement roadmap and these are the milestones that we want them to ahcieve before we pass the ball to them madali lang kasing ilipat nang ilipat pero kung hindi sila handang sumalo at sumabog yung programa, kawawa ang ating matatanda.

Unfortunately at this point in time, despite numerous meetings, the engagement plan has not been fully complied with. We gave them our list of conditions for instance, basic conditions, case in point, they are structured in eight clustered regions, while we do 16, doon pa lang po mahihirapan na. They don't have physical offices, they don't have staff, they don't have a whole lot. Us passing the responsibilities to them. Even in structured in regions so how can they adminsiter the region operations if oversee regional oeprations if they structure that way. And from my understanding, they just took in their executive director recently from my understanding. So a lot is to be desired for the receiving party but we, the DSWD, doesn't feel that they are ready to do so.

SRH: On the NCIP, I see Chair Jennifer Sibug-Las is here, Ma'am and a mining issue in Gutalac, Zamboanga Del Norte, it's been brought to my attention by the government of Gutalac and the Diocese of Dipolog, an ongoing dispute involving a mining explation project in that municipality since 2021 the land involved covers 28 barangays all of which are located within the ancestral domain claim of indigenous people.

The mining company involved Florgenmar Mining and Development Corporation has been issued a exploratory permit in April 2022 without going through the necessary prior and informed consent process as mandated by the IPRA. The mining company continues to use this permit to conduct considerable earth novement and mountain quarrying activities, land development and building constructuon in the area. While I understand that the NCIP office in Dipolig City questioned the Region 9 Office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of DENR of that issuances without the certification of precondition from the Commission maaari po bang malaman bakit nagpatuloy pa rin ang Commission sa pagagwa ng belated FPIC process at nag-issue pa ng certififcation precondition samatalang nilabag na po yung batas, yung IPRA mula sa simula. At bago nagdesisyon po yung Commission en banc na mag-issue na yung cretification precondition, ano pang ibang FPIC processes inundergo ang kasong ito?

Commissioner Jennifer Sibug-Las (NCIP): Thank you, Madam Chair, if I may. Bago ko po sagutin yung katanungan ni Senator Hontiveros, nais ko munang gamitin ang pagkakataong ito na pasalamat ang ating mahal na pangulo sa pagtalaga po sa akin bilang tagapamahala po ng Pambansang Komisyon ng Katutubong Pilipino o NCIP almost 10 days ago.

So, doon po sa katanungan nyo, Senator Hontiveros, kung mararapatin po ay nais ko rin pong i-request ang aking kasama na commissionado po ng area kung saan po kayo ay may concern. Ako po, ang akin pong kinakatawan ay Region 12 or ang Central Mindanao which is Region 12 so si Commissioner Pinky Grace Pabelic who is the concerend ethnographic commissioner of Regions 9 is maybe privy regarding your concern, Madam Chair.

SRH: Yesm si commissioner please.

Commissioner Pinky Grace Pabelic: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat, what the NCIP issued was a certification precondition for the exploration, there was no application for the utilization yet with the NCIP Madam Chair. Exploration lang po na stage yung naissuehan natin ng CP po,

SRH: Salamat commissioner, but still hindi po ba nilabag yung batasa mula sa simula eh so kahit yung CP para sa exploration, bakit inissue pa rin?

Comm. Pabelic: During the deliberation of the CP applciation for the exploration permit Madam Chair there was no complaints that we received regarding the activities of Florgenmar in the area, Madam Chair so we approved po the exploration, CP application.

SRH: At ano pang ibang FPIC process unundergo itong kasong ito?

Comm. Pabelic: We have not yet received their application for CP for the utilization already Madam chair. Doon pa lang sa exploration.

SRH: So, bukod doon sa belated na FPIC process bago naissue yung CP for exploration, wala na pong ibang dagdag na FPIC process ang isinasagawa bago pa man makatanggap ng application para sa CP utilization?

Comm. Pabelic: I understand FPIC for the CP application doon na sa utilization is ongoing po sa provincial office natin madam chair it has not yet reached the central office for deliberation po.

SRH: Hindi pa po umabot sa central office ng commission pero umabot na po sa regional office nyo?

Comm. Pabelic: I understand sa provincial office pa po Madam chair. Yung FPIC po.

SRH: Sa provincial po umabot na? Alright, salamat po. Just for the record, in support actually of the mandate of the NCIP, for the record may mga official comminications na po sa pagitan ng LGU Kutalac at ygn NCIP tungkol sa isyung ito.

I refer to communications dated 22 October 2022 mula sa NCIP acting regional director papunta sa NCIP provincial officer regarding a suspension of Gutalac-Baliquian-Siocon ancestral domain activities until a stakeholders meeting is conducted in November 2022.

Gayundin, Novemebr 16 2022 comunication po mula kay Mayor Eddie Justin Quimbo sa NCIP region 9 at copy furnished then NCIP Chair Capuyan na nag-a-identify ng discrepancies sa exploration permit tulad ng absence at that time ng certification precondition and then 14th April 2023 communication mula kay dating Chair Capuyan kay Mayor Quimbo informing the mayor that on 23 February 2023, the commission en banc approved the certification precondition for mining exloration only as current Chair Sibug-Las said and authorized the chair to sign the MOA on behalf of the NCIP. So just for the record, Madam Chair, mayroon pong mga communications mula sa LGU Gutalac at gayundin sa NCIP acting regional director at kay NCIP Chair Capuyan.

So lastly, Madam Chair maaari po bang humingi sa NCIP provide po yung aming Komite ng full report po sa lahat ng proseso na inundertake ng Commission kaugnay po ng kasong ito. Maaari po ba, Commissioner Sibug-Las?

Comm. Sibug-Las: We submit to the request and the instruction of the Honorable Hontiveros. We will submit the report as soon as possible time. Rest assured po Madam Chair we will take this seriously and act accordingly. Thank you very much po.

SRH: Maraming salamat din Commissioner Sibug-Las. I'm afraid I have the impression that this particular process, this particular case has not started well at alam naman nating na ang angunahin o solong constituency ng NCIP ay yung ating mga katutubong Filipino kasama yung mga Lumad sa Mindanao. Hayaan po natin ang MGB na magchampion sa mga mining companies kasi may kanya-kanya namang constituency at stakeholders ang bawat ahensya ng gobyerno and each constituency deserves equal 100% representation on the part of their champions within governemnt. Napakalakas po ng IPRA there have been times too many times in the past na hindi ito ganap na ginamit talaga alang-alang sa mga katutubo kahit pa ng komisyon but in the Senate, in Congress we continue to keep faith in NCIP kaya po't nilalapit namin ang ganitong kaso you have the full constiutional and legal mandate to fight beside the indigenous peoples for their rights under the IPRA so salamat po Chair at Commissioner.

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