DSWD CRIES FOUL: Politico uses agency’s logo in campaign ads

COMMON POSTER AREA. This part of the public plaza in Jaro, Iloilo City is where party-list groups seeking seats in the House of Representatives this May 13, 2019 midterm elections could display their campaign materials, according to the Commission on Elections. The poll body reminds party-list groups and individual candidates to follow election campaign rules and regulations. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Western Visayas chided an unnamed politician for using the agency’s logo in campaign advertisements on television, social network application Facebook and popular video-sharing site YouTube. In a public advisory, DSWD Region 6 reiterated it would never endorse any politician for the upcoming May 13 midterm elections.

In the politician’s campaign advertisements, a woman could be seen wearing a green shirt emblazoned with DSWD’s logo.

The woman was not its employee, according to DSWD Region 6, and the use of its logo had no permission from the agency.

The department was apolitical, stressed the DSWD regional office.

It also reminded beneficiaries of its various programs – Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Social Pension, Sustainable Livelihood Program, KALAHI (Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan), among others – that only the agency could delist them from the list of beneficiaries.

“Do not believe anyone threatening that you would be delisted from our programs if you won’t support certain candidates or parties,” part of the DSWD advisory read.

Two months ago, DSWD Region 6 announced it would no longer involve local government units (LGUs) in the distribution of cash assistance to beneficiaries of the national government’s Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program. Regional Director Rebecca Geamala learned that some politicians spoke during payouts, making it appear they were somehow responsible for the cash assistance.

“Now it will be Landbank of the Philippines, DSWD and faith-based organizations that will be in charge of the payout. We will no longer let LGUs manage the program,” Geamala said.

The UCT program is the tax subsidy provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to cushion the adverse economic effect of the policy on the poor for three years starting 2018.

It is considered to be the biggest tax reform mitigation program under the TRAIN law which seeks to provide 10 million beneficiaries with cash subsidies amounting to P200 a month for 2018 and P300 a month for 2019 and 2020.

DSWD was given the responsibility by Congress to implement the distribution.

“We don’t tolerate politicians speaking during the release of the cash assistance. We are neutral. We are not campaigning for anyone,” said Geamala.

Under the TRAIN law, the households and individuals who will receive the UCT are divided into three main categories:

* 4.4 million are members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)

* 2.6 million are social pension senior citizen beneficiaries

* three million from DSWD’s Listahanan or National Household Targeting System

The LGUs’ social welfare offices would now be tapped only for the dissemination of the payout schedules, said Geamala.

“I have ordered the immediate removal of the tarpaulins of politicians during payouts,” she added.

Geamala warned politicians threatening UCT beneficiaries of being delisted from the program. They would be reported to the Department of Interior and Local Government, she said.

This was not the first time DSWD Region 6 blew its top over politicians hijacking its programs. In October, it told beneficiaries not to believe politicos who threaten to remove them from the government’s 4Ps.

Wala kita political color. For as long as the 4Ps’ conditions are met, beneficiaries will remain in the program,” said Geamala.

Some politicians were making it appear they have a say on who should remain and be removed from the 4Ps, thereby making it a tool to gather support for the upcoming midterm elections.

“That’s not true. Ang aton Pantawid Pamilya program implementation has nothing to do with politics,” said Geamala.

No congressman, mayor or political party can delist or add beneficiaries to the 4Ps, she stressed.

Only DSWD can do that and for such, a “Grievance Redress System” is being followed, said Geamala.

“Meaning to say, wala sang political party nga makasiling nga ‘kon indi kamo magboto sa amon, kakason namon kamo sa listahan,’” the director clarified./PN


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