DU30’s finest

While rookie errors are understandable, the recent mayhem at the Department of Social Welfare and Development should have not happened.

The agency could have continued from the previous programs and benefited from the long experience of the Duterte administration in the distribution of financial aid, which has been sharpened as the government simultaneously faced calamities and the pandemic then.

There was no need to reinvent the wheel as the current crop of officials only needed to refer to the whole of nation approach in confronting challenges brought by the pandemic.

The distribution of aid or ayuda, despite the several complaints raised against it, reached beneficiaries in an efficient manner, mostly through the use of technology.

It was former president Rodrigo Duterte’s conviction that the military has the wherewithal when it comes to logistics, thus former generals filled his Covid response team.

More than 50 former military officials were in the administration, including about five generals in the Cabinet, that the bleeding hearts including foreign groups said was proof of the militarization of government.

The preference for soldiers, according to Duterte, was that they do things faster and with little argument.

Among the brass that Duterte relied on were his Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the 2001 commander of the Philippine Army Special Operations Command; Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was a chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Peace Process Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., another former chief of staff of the military; Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, erstwhile AFP chief of staff; and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, who was a Philippine Army chief.

Bautista’s appointment was then the most assailed since the detractors said the DSWD should be headed by somebody who knows social work.

It did not take long to prove his detractors wrong as the much-needed subsidies were farmed out efficiently, except for some instances when cash was stalled in the local government level for one reason or another.

The supposed agreement with the Department of the Interior and Local Government to improve the distribution of the education aid already has a precursor through a joint circular among DSWD, DILG and DND that was signed in 2021.

In that joint memo circular are the detailed guidelines for the quick dissemination of cash aid or ayuda during the enhanced community quarantine.

Although the agreement covers only the National Capital Region, it provided the framework for the distribution of subsidies, mainly the participation of local government units in the process.

Vital in the document is the accountability requirements for local officials to ensure that the public funds go to Filipinos who need it the most.

Duterte’s men accumulated a rich trove of knowledge during the more than a year of quarantine experience in the battle against Covid.

The distribution of educational assistance falls within the spirit of the whole of nation approach that the former leadership had crafted, which was well accepted considering the consistently high rating of the president even during the peak of the lockdowns where most Filipinos were strictly locked inside their homes.

It was, however, a matter of rapport with Filipinos along with the efficiency in the top level of government that kept the confidence of people high amid the uncertainties then.

The current administration should benefit from the whole of nation approach that had saved the country from the worst ravages that the pandemic can offer.

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