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DSWD aid benefits 300k Bicolanos; 400k receiveP1.3-B social pension

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported on Thursday that a high number of Bicolano families and individuals facing adversities were served under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.

Jastine Joy Dichoso Escuro, DSWD-Bicol AICS program focal person, said as of Dec. 7, their office gave a total of PHP1.8 billion worth of assistance to 278,511 individuals.

“With this accomplishment, we have exceeded our average client count between 2020 and 2022, which was 167,000. This serves as a testament to our unwavering commitment to providing exceptional service to our people,” she said in an interview.

Escuro said that apart from psychosocial intervention, the forms of assistance being provided by the DSWD under the AICS program are medical, educational and monetary, which were also the most availed forms of aid.

A substantial number of clients, meanwhile, requested funeral, food and transportation assistance.

“The DSWD commits to improving the AICS program to help and support individuals and families to recover from unexpected crises,” she added.

In a statement, DSWD Regional Director Norman Laurio said the number of beneficiaries served in 2023 represents the highest accomplishment in the past three years.

“The field office facilitated the request for various types of assistance from individuals who experienced unexpected crises such as illness or death of a family member, natural and man-made disasters, and other emergencies,” Laurio said.

DSWD-Bicol attributed the increased number of beneficiaries served to the streamlined delivery process which reduced documentary requirements and simplified forms for expedited aid release.

“We have operationalized various satellite offices in strategic areas in the region to strengthen AICS. We have brought the services under AICS closer and more accessible to clients,” he added.

DSWD-Bicol has established 10 satellite offices in six provinces in the region.

Meanwhile more than 440,000 indigent senior citizens in the six provinces of the Bicol Region received government assistance this year through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPIC) program.

In a report on Friday, Irah Jeanne Ego, Social Welfare Officer II and SPIC focal person, said DSWD-Bicol released a total fund of PHP1.32 billion for this year.

“In 2023, during the first semester, 283,101 beneficiaries were served with a total amount of PHP849,303,000. For the second semester, 158,852 social pensioners were able to receive their monthly stipends with PHP476,556,000 fund surpassing the total target of 288,155 all over the region,” she said.

Implemented under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, the SPIC program provides a monthly stipend of PHP500 to qualified individuals.

In a statement, DSWD-Bicol Director Norman Laurio said the stipend supplements the beneficiaries’ daily expenses and medical needs.

“Elderly citizens who are entitled to the social pension program of DSWD are those who are indigent, sick, disabled, frail, have no regular or permanent source of income, receive no financial assistance from family members or relatives, and do not receive any other pensions from the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, or other institutions,” he said.

Laurio said DSWD-Bicol field workers ensure prioritization of the qualified indigent senior citizens.

“Ito po ang dapat maintindihan ng lahat that due to limited target, nakadepende talaga ang beneficiaries na nasiserve ng programa sa number of slots per munisipyo (Due to a limited target, the number of beneficiaries served by the program really depends on the slots per municipality),” he added. (PNA)

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