By Zaldy De Layola

(Courtesy of DSWD)

MANILA – A senior official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Thursday urged Congress to pass a bill institutionalizing the community-driven development (CDD) program through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).

“Sa atin pong mga mambabatas, hindi lamang po sa mga mambabatas natin kung hindi pati na rin sa ating community volunteers at sa ating unsung heroes ng KALAHI-CIDSS, dalawampung taon na po ang KALAHI-CIDSS. Samahan ninyo kami na tumindig upang maipagpatuloy natin ang programa ((To our lawmakers, not just to our legislators but also to our community volunteers and the unsung heroes of KALAHI-CIDSS, KALAHI-CIDSS has been around for twenty years now. Join us in standing up to continue the program),” KALAHI-CIDSS national program manager Bernadette Mapue-Joaquin said during Thursday’s media forum at DSWD main office in Quezon City.

The version of the CDD bill was filed during the 18th Congress in September 2019 while the second and third were refiled in the 19th Congress in 2022 and 2023.

“The three versions are set for the first public hearing at the committee level. It pushes for the institutionalization and operationalization of the CDD approach; provision of capacity-building and technical assistance to local government units, civil society organizations, and communities through the DSWD Academy; and creation of an inter-agency advisory council on CDD,” Mapue-Joaquin said.

Among the DSWD flagship programs, only the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) was institutionalized in 2019 through Republic Act 11310.

The Food Stamp Program, one of the innovative programs of DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, is now in the process of being institutionalized after Malacañang issued Executive Order (EO) No. 44, establishing the “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” as a flagship program of the national government.

Last May 14, the House Committee on Social Services gave its approval to the unnumbered substitute bill to House Bills 8532, 8899, 10010, and 10202, which all seek to strengthen the anti-involuntary hunger program of the government.

Mapue-Joaquin said institutionalizing CDD would create a continuous enabling policy that ensures maximum participation and empowerment of the communities.

“Marami na po tayong natulungan na mga komunidad pero marami pa rin pong mga komunidad ang nangangailangan ng tulong dito po sa ating programa na KALAHI-CIDSS. (Many communities have already been helped, but there are still many more communities in need of assistance through our KALAHI-CIDSS program,” she said.

“Tulungan nyo kami na ipagpatuloy at isabatas po natin ang programa. Tulungan nyo kami na ipagpatuloy ang pagbibigay ng tulong sa mga pinakanangangailangan na komunidad (Please help us to continue and institutionalize the program. Assist us in continuing to provide aid to the communities or to those communities in dire need),” she added.

Based on records, the DSWD, through the KALAHI-CIDSS, has provided basic social services to more than 22 million poor, vulnerable, marginalized, and geographically isolated households, through 83,155 subprojects.

These projects include access roads, improved water systems, medical supplies, tools and equipment, barangay health stations, and Child Development Centers.

KALAHI-CIDSS is one of the poverty alleviation programs of the DSWD that engages communities to identify, design, and implement development projects to address their most pressing needs.

The program also helps communities in poor municipalities identify challenges around reducing poverty and make informed decisions on a range of locally identified options for development. (PNA)