Lacson to DSWD: Prioritize Capacitating of 5th, 6th-Class Towns

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Monday urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to prioritize fifth- and sixth-class municipalities in its Technical Assistance and Resource Augmentation (TARA) program.

Lacson said this would help ensure that the DSWD is able to maximize its funds for the program while benefiting the local government units that need assistance most.

“One criterion na naisip ko, i-prioritize siguro fifth- and sixth-class municipalities kesa first-class municipalities, kasi hindi na siguro kailangan, technically capacitated na sila (One criterion I can think of is to prioritize assistance to the fifth and sixth-class municipalities. First-class municipalities likely do not need the assistance as much as they are already technically capacitated),” he said at the Senate hearing on the DSWD’s budget for 2022.

Related: Ping sa DSWD: Mas Bigyang Kapasidad ang Mga Mahihirap na Bayan

He also sought clarification why the TARA continues to provide technical assistance yearly to 1,240 municipalities since 2015.

Technical Assistance includes activities through which the DSWD imparts technical and organizational skills and knowhow to a local government unit, another agency or organization, groups or individuals – especially where the latter seek for such – with the aim of standardizing and upgrading the delivery of basic social services.

Lacson shared his experience as Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery (PARR) where his office helped technically capacitate 171 cities and towns affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – where those who were given assistance graduated from the Development Academy of the Philippines after a number of years.

He acknowledged the financial assistance extended at the time by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through then Mission Director Gloria Steele to OPARR that made possible the enrollment and graduation of more than 160 development and community planning officers of the LGUs devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

“Siguro kung itong P1.121 bilyon taun-taon, marami na kayo napa-graduate ng masteral kesa capacitate sa pamamagitan ng training (With your P1.121-billion budget per year, you should have produced graduates with masteral degrees instead of only capacitating them with training),” he said at Monday’s hearing.

Lacson, who continues to advocate the empowerment of local government units to carry out development projects, also stressed that it would be better if the TARA was need-driven rather than demand-driven.

Citing historical data, Lacson said the TARA had a budget of P632 million in 2016; P756 million in 2017; P891 million in 2018; P970 million in 2019; P979 million in 2020; and P1 billion for 2021.

“Hindi natin kinu-question pero baka hindi na-attain ang tunay na objectives. Hindi ba result-driven ito (I am not questioning the TARA itself, but with this current approach, are we meeting our objectives? Should this not be result-driven)?” he said.