The next DSWD secretary should be in the mold of the 10 women who had held that post since 1986.
If tradition is to be followed, there’s a high bar to be met in choosing the head of an agency that helps those who have fallen through the cracks of society.
Recite their names and one can come to the conclusion that DSWD has always been run by women with the head and the heart to lead a frontline agency.
Mita Pardo de Tavera, Corazon Alma de Leon, Lilian Laigo, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Dulce Saguisag, Corazon Soliman, Luwalhati Pablo, Esperanza Cabral, Celia Yangco and Judy Taguiwalo were all hardworking professionals.
But DSWD’s expanded mandate has put the qualification standard a notch higher. The magnitude of programs leaves no room for an OJT to take over Judy Taguiwalo’s seat.
One in five Filipinos today is a recipient of DWSD assistance. In all, 28.29 million Filipinos are regular beneficiaries of its welfare and development programs.
Through its mega-billion cash transfer programs, DSWD in effect maintains the country’s biggest payroll.
For 2017, 4.4 million families or about 19.360 million individuals are enrolled in its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps. Almost three million senior citizens receive P500 a month under the Social Pension for Indigents Program.
DSWD is also a big catering operation. It serves one nutritious meal a day to 1.746 million kids for 120 days. That would be 209 million kiddie meals served in a year.
It runs orphanages, halfway houses for women in distress, old age homes with a projected total clientele of 410,000. This includes individuals in emergency situations in need of assistance.
On top of this, DSWD has war evacuees to attend to. Marawi alone has 201,000 individuals. DWSD is also a first responder to calamities, whether natural, like a typhoon, or man-made, like fires. This year DSWD has budget to attend to the needs of 346,000 of them.
Through Kalahi-CIDSS, DSWD funds and incubates entrepreneurship programs, and implements small community infrastructure programs. 1.540 million are enrolled in its various livelihood programs.
With more programs, comes a bigger budget. No longer a cellar dweller in the national budget, the agency has pole-vaulted to the circle of Top 5 recipients with a budget of P128 billion this year.
The budget of some of its programs dwarfs those of other departments. 4Ps has a 2017 budget of P78.186 billion; the pension for seniors, P17.940 billion; children’s feeding, P4.427 billion.
All of these are being managed by a relatively small crew of 2,800 regular DSWD employees, which is 1/28th the size of the DepED workforce.
Backing them up is a pool of 25,200 contractual employees.
These are the programs that await the incoming DSWD secretary. Clearly, it is not for the faint of heart. Those with no organizational experience need not apply.