Interview

Kapihan sa Dapo

MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome to our news forum this Saturday. I’m Butch Hilario, I write a column for Manila Standard and I’ve been a co-moderator of this forum.

We have a full lineup today – we have the OIC of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to tell us iyong current programs nila along several tracks ano – iyong Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), tapos iyong cash assistance sa mga disadvantaged sectors, tapos mayroon pang education assistance for a time ano. The longstanding mandate nila is to assist the victims of natural calamities, magbibigay sila ng report on what the DSWD has done since the Marcos administration came on board, ano.

We’re also waiting for Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista of the Department of Agriculture to give us an update on what the department is doing about the scarcity of onions and impending rise in prices, at saka iyong mga ginagawa ng Department of Agriculture to ensure food security, and other matters.

We also have a prominent economist, Ramon Orosa, who will give us his insights on the World Economic Forum. Alam naman natin na the President is scheduled to leave for Davos, Switzerland tomorrow for a five-day meeting ng mga prominent economists at saka financial experts on the direction of the world with the global economy in the years ahead. Whereas, Mr. Orosa, his views on reports that President Marcos will also discuss the Maharlika Investment Fund dito sa World Economic Forum sa Davos.[sic]

Anyway, we’ll start with OIC Edu Punay to give us opening statement on the current status of the DSWD.

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Good morning, Sir Butch, and to all our friends in the media, our former colleagues – how are you guys?

So, during the last Cabinet meeting earlier this week ‘no, we were able to present the accomplishment report of DSWD with the President and the Cabinet. So iyon, ang full year report natin, atin pong ibinahagi sa Pangulo kasama po diyan specifically iyong ating major programs sa DSWD na part ng ating flagship programs that are aligned with the 8-point agenda of the administration, specifically, iyong ating objective for reducing vulnerability and mitigating the scarring from the COVID-19 pandemic.

So ang mga ni-report po natin doon kasama din iyong ating accomplishments for the 4Ps, iyong Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program which is the flagship of the national poverty alleviation program ng government. Kasama rin doon iyong ating social pension program and the AICS, iyong Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program as well as iyong ating disaster response programs which is relevant today with what’s going on in the Visayas and Mindanao na continuous iyong ating flooding situation doon; maraming kababayan po tayong nangangailangan ng tulong mula pa nitong Kapaskuhan ‘no.

So, Butch, talagang tuluy-tuloy, balik-balik ang pagbaha doon. We’ve been going there, the President went there personally to oversee the situation and address the needs of the communities. So maybe, let’s begin with the 4Ps, Sir Butch ‘no.

Iyong 4Ps program po, ito po iyong flagship program natin na alam naman nating lahat na ito iyong poverty alleviation – ito ‘yung mekanismo ng gobyerno para tulungang umangat sa kahirapan ang ating mga kababayang nasa baba ng economic strata natin. Ang intensiyon nito ay focused on education – nagbibigay tayo sa mga pamilya na may mga estudyante, mga anak na estudyante below 17 years old para pantulong sa pagtustos ng pag-aaral ng mga bata ‘no. Ito ‘yung main objective talaga nitong programa at ang target po natin dito annually ay 4.4 million households, iyon ang ating target dito annually.

At last year po, 2022, nakapagsilbi po tayo ng 4,323,450 na households – ito po ay 98.3% ng ating target. At dahil sila po’y nabigyan ng assistance with a total worth na 9.28 billion pesos po so almost 100 billion na pondo ng gobyerno ang napunta dito sa 4Ps program po natin.

During the last year when the administration assumed office, the objective is to cleanse the list and update iyong beneficiaries natin kasi marami po doon ay matatagal na sa programa. So marami na po tayong naka-waitlist dito sa 4Ps natin na kailangan nating pagraduweytin para mapalitan, maka-accommodate tayo ng bagong beneficiaries kasi napakarami po, hindi po kasya iyong 4.4 million na slot to accommodate everybody na nangangailangan ng tulong.

And so last year, we were able to graduate 106,000 beneficiaries. But originally, mayroon pong 1.3 million sana tayong papagraduweytin based on our ‘Listahanan 3’ ng ating national house target in office. Unfortunately po, outdated po iyong listahan na iyon, iyong 1.3 million – this was made in 2019 and that did not take into consideration iyong effects ng pandemic ‘di ba.

Alam naman natin iyong impact ng pandemic na marami naghirap tayong kababayan, so may mga middle income nga tayong earners na bumaba pa sa poverty line. So, we expect iyong mga nasa poverty line natin to stay there. That’s why when we had the validation last year, out of the 1.3 million supposed to be graduates from the 4Ps, na-determine namin na mayroon pang 500,000 na kailangan mag-stay sa 4Ps Program –they remain in the poverty level.

So, iyon ang inaayos po namin ngayon nagku-conduct kami ng community validation dito sa mga beneficiaries na ito sa 4Ps Program, and we expect to further cleanse ang Listahanan natin, at magpapa-graduate tayo ng 500,000 this year para po may mapalit tayo na more than 600,000 na beneficiaries, may ma-accommodate tayo na bagong beneficiaries ng 4Ps mula sa ating waitlist, Sir Butch. Talagang napakalaking challenge po ito sa DSWD dahil very crucial iyong identification, at enumeration natin ng households kung sino talaga iyong magku-qualify sa 4Ps Program dahil napakarami nga pong waitlist. We are being bombarded with so many grievances ng mga gustong mapabilang sa 4Ps Program, and tayo naman po ay nagsi-set ng targets. So, by end of this month hopefully ay maayos na po natin iyong listahan, makumpleto na natin iyong ating 500,000, Sir Butch, na additional papalitan natin sa 4Ps Program.

And then, we also have iyong another major program ng DSWD po, flagship programs naming is iyong Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS). Ito iyong nakikita ninyong pumipila araw-araw sa DSWD pati sa aming mga regional offices ‘no. This is one of the—we can say more successful programs ng DSWD under the current administration because we were able to streamline the process when Sec. Erwin and the administration of President Bongbong came in.

We removed a lot of redundant requirements, so from it used to be like five to seven documentary requirements before beneficiaries would be able to access our grants, ngayon po two to three requirements na lang ang ating niri-require sa ating mga beneficiaries kaya dumami po talaga iyong benepisyaryo natin dito.

Actually, Sir Butch, nag-overshoot kami dito sa budget dito. Ang target namin dito ay 1.2 million beneficiaries lang last year but fortunately or unfortunately, umabot po ng 4.4 million iyong naging beneficiaries namin doon, at nag-overshoot iyong aming pondo doon ng 362%. Kaya nanghingi po kami ng mga supplemental budget po doon. Kasama dito, Sir Butch, iyong Educational Assistance – that’s the component of the AICS Program. And so, we’re able to spend P34.22-B for the AICS Program in 2022. So, iyon talaga, malaking factor iyong streamlining natin ng delivery process natin kaya mas marami tayong na-reach na beneficiaries, mas marami tayong natulungan under the administration of President BBM.

And then, nandiyan din po of course iyong mga other major programs natin – iyong Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens – mayroon tayong na-serve doon na 3.75 million senior citizens nationwide. We were able to utilize P24.64-B sa SocPen project natin. At one successful venture ng DSWD in this project is this iyong we’re able to lobby before the Congress iyong increase ng social pension grant natin, Sir Butch. It used to be P500 pero iyon nga may bago tayong batas increasing it to P1,000 per month – so, nadoble iyong ating mga social pension benefits.

Also, we have the Supplemental Feeding Program. Mayroon tayong na-benefit na almost two million children dito sa Supplemental Feeding Program natin where we spent P4-B last year.

And then of course, mayroon tayong Sustainable Livelihood Program – ito iyong running program natin designed actually to accommodate iyong graduates ng 4Ps Program natin – dito natin sila ie-exit program sa SLP para po ma-sustain iyong kanilang livelihood requirements at hindi na sila bumalik sa poverty threshold natin. So, iyong mga ga-graduate natin sa 4Ps ay bibigyan natin sila ng puhunan, ganoon po iyong sistema noon – P15,000 para po iyon iyong tini-train po natin sila kung paano maging entrepreneur, paano magsimula ng sustainable livelihood. So, last year we were able to help 184,360 households, and utilized P4.64-B in funding the SLP Program.

So, ilan lang iyon, sir, sa ating mga naging accomplishments. Nandoon din of course very active ang ating disaster response – isa ito sa mga pinaka-well appreciated ng ating mga kababayan. In fact, one of the five most approved programs ng BBM administration itong disaster response natin kasi very proactive tayo dito. Ang policy na in-implement natin is prepositioning ng mga relief items sa strategic locations in various localities nationwide para hindi na tayo magta-transport pa sa malalayong lugar ng ating mga relief items na food and non-food, unlike what’s being practiced before.

So, ngayon talagang very swift, very fast iyong ating disaster response – within 24 hours from the time of the calamity hit a locality we’re able to deliver iyong mga needed relief items – mga family food packs, nandiyan iyong mga hygiene kits, iyong mga modular tents natin. So, last year we were able to provide help in 65,000 households, and 400 for the emergency shelter assistance, and 402,000 households nabigyan natin cash for work, at ating mga of course iyong mga prepositioned goods natin in coordination with the local government units.

Crucial I may add, Sir Butch, iyong disaster response po kasi medyo may sistema po ito – kailangan we are working closely with the local government units. Ang local government units po ang mga first responders po talaga under our Local Government Code – sila iyong unang reresponde sa disaster. So, they do the rescue operations, the relief missions, and it’s only when they ask for assistance of DSWD that we step in, but now we are proactive, so we enter the municipality alongside the LGU na – so, sabay na kaming pumapasok, we don’t wait for the LGU to ask for our help before we step in in the calamity area.

So, kaya napapabilis po talaga iyong ating response, at nakita naman po natin iyan sa mga previous experience – sa ating mga bagyo especially during Paeng, iyong mga major disasters po natin, the earthquake in the North – nakita natin how proactive the response of DSWD was.

So, basically, sir, iyon iyong ating accomplishments in 2022, sir.

MODERATOR: Okay. I recall during the Duterte administration, ang target was to reduce the poverty level from 22 to 16%. Tapos ngayon the Marcos administration wants to further reduce the poverty rate to just single digit 9%. I don’t know kung ano iyong current level ng poverty rate at present as what to dictate to achieve iyong 9% poverty rate by the end of the Marcos administration in 2028.

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Sir Butch, actually the PSA is currently updating iyong ating poverty rate. Last year the updated poverty rate of the country was at 12%. So, medyo mataas pa po and we’re still far from our target na one digit. And I think, we have to take into consideration, Sir Butch, iyong impact talaga. Up to this day we still feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, very crucial itong poverty alleviation programs ng government to mitigate the impact and improve the lives of our countrymen in the poverty level. But the standing order of the President is really to respond to the needs of our countrymen, and we have to be quick – iyon talaga iyong gusto ni Presidente, quick response – kapag may kailangan ang mga kababayan natin, kailangan ibigay agad, i-deliver agad ng DSWD.

At ang isa pa niyang bilin po ay kailangan, iyon nga, proactive iyong response natin, kailangan tayo iyong nagri-reach out sa mga tao, hindi iyong kailangang hanapin pa nila tayo, kailangan puntahan pa tayo o katukin tayo sa ating mga opisina para sila ay bigyan ng tulong.

Ang ginagawa po natin ngayon, even with our indigenous people (IPs), sa mga kababayan natin – isa po iyon sa mga nakita natin noong nakaraang taon – tayo po ay pumupunta sa mga lugar nila, sa mga geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) na aming tawagin. Sila po ay niri-reach out ng gobyerno para ilapit namin iyong serbisyo doon sa kanila, hindi na nila kailangang magbiyahe pa dito.

At makikita naman natin, Sir Butch, every December, every holiday iyong mga kababayan nating Sama Badjao at mga IP ay talagang lumuluwas ng mga siyudad para mamalimos – ito po iyong ating tinututukan para maiwasan po iyon. At may mga nakahanda po tayong programa doon kabilang diyan iyong birth registration ng ating mga IP communities para sila ay mabigyan ng dokumento like birth certificate at national ID para sila ay magkaroon ng better access sa ating mga services at programs sa gobyerno at hindi na sila iyong every December, November talagang pupunta sa Metro Manila at mamamalimos.

We want the services closer to the people – that’s the number one order from the President, Sir Butch.

MODERATOR: Just today mayroong news na survey show that half of all Filipino households consider themselves poor. Ano ang immediate na magagawa ng DSWD to reduce iyong number of poor families, poor households? Ano ang relasyon nito sa efforts ng buong gobyerno? We’re talking of a whole-of-society approach, whole-of-government approach, ano iyong papel ng ibang departments dito sa Anti-Poverty Program?

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Tama iyong sinabi ninyo, Sir Butch. This necessitates a whole-of-government approach talaga while iyong mga flagship programs po natin, Anti-Poverty Alleviation Program is launched with the DSWD, we need a lot of help from the other agencies. So, that’s why isa ring bilin ng Pangulo po iyan, Sir Butch, na we have to collaborate with other agencies.

Every time we have a disaster, we are always in close coordination of course with the local government units, nandiyan iyong ating NDRRMC, ang ating OCD, kasama rin natin ang DA, at DPWH po, Sir Butch, para i-address iyong mga housing problems ng ating mga kababayang apektado ng mga calamities.

And when it comes to poverty, of course poverty alleviation, iyong mga programs natin talagang we are improving, we keep on improving our system and our mechanism in delivery of services para iyon nga, ang target talaga natin, Sir Butch, kasi is to reach as many Filipinos as we can. Given the limited resources of course, of the government gusto namin maparating iyon sa mga kababayan nating mahihirap, mas marami iyong maparatingan natin ng tulong ng ating mga programa.

That’s why ganoon nga po iyong ating direksiyon ngayon, instead of waiting for them to ask for help for DSWD we go to these communities and determine what they need para we address them, and of course iyong collaboration with the local governments and other agencies like DILG – lagi po nating partner iyang mga iyan – DILG; kapag kailangan natin ng supplemental resources, we go to PAGCOR, PCSO – kung kulang ang pondo namin ay humihingi po kami doon ng tulong; kapag kailangan ng mga iba’t ibang problema pa talagang local government po ang ating partner talaga, Sir Butch, with respect to poverty alleviation at implementation ng ating program.

That’s why very crucial po, Sir Butch, iyong ating relationship with the local government officials and the provincial government officials, para synchronize po iyong ating mga actions. Iyon nga po, para isang direksiyon po ang ating tinatahak because very crucial sa implementation po iyon, iyong synchronicity ng agencies, Sir Butch.

Q: Good morning, I’m Camilo Millentes(?) of Mediaforce, I would like to ask a question to Secretary Punay, I foresee na magiging Secretary pala. Compared with the budget in 2022, what is now the budget in 2023 of the DSWD? And the second, did you still provide for the ayuda appropriation for the year 2023? Thank you.

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Thank you, sir. Last year, we had P194-B total budget for DSWD. Right now it was increased by almost P10-B, sir; P202-B iyong allocation namin this year, so may kaunting nadagdag sa ating mga major programs para mapa-implement natin nang mabuti. Although iyong ating SAP, iyong program natin, iyong Social Amelioration Program during the pandemic ay wala na pong budget ito even last year iyong ating ayuda. Dinadaan na po natin iyong mga ating pagtulong sa kababayan sa major programs po natin – iyong ating in-explain kanina na AICS Program, ito po iyong stopgap program natin na pantulong sa mga kababayan nating nangangailangan ng medical, mga educational, mga transportation, burial, and even food assistance – iyon po ay tinaasan ang funding up to P40-B po ang pondo noon ngayon kaya mas marami tayong matutulungan.

Nakita po ng Pangulo at ng ating Kongreso na ang kahalagahan o ang significance ng program na iyon, that’s why tinaasan po nila iyong budget ng program na iyon. But still, we’re foreseeing na baka magkulang kasi ang daming nangyayari po ngayon especially sa disaster response po natin medyo, due to climate change, binabanggit naman po ng Pangulo na we’re expecting ng napakaraming mga bagyo, mga pagbabaha na mangyayari sa ating bansa at kailangan ng responde at tulong ng ating mga kababayang maaapektuhan, so we’re always on standby naman po. If we need additional funding, we can always ask for supplemental budget from Congress po.

MODERATOR: Ano ang nangyari doon sa proposal na magtayo ng Department of Disaster Resilience, and how would that affect iyong disaster response ninyo?

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Yes, Sir Butch, I think this is still pending with the Congress, it wasn’t enacted yet, the proposal, but DSWD was one of the focal agencies consulted in the drafting of that bill precisely because we are one of the pillars of disaster response, kami iyong mga kasama sa mga first responders. At mayroon kaming program actually, Sir Butch, iyong Emergency Shelter Assistance wherein we give financial assistance dito sa mga kababayan nating nasira iyong mga bahay o na-damage iyong bahay; we give them financial assistance of P8,000 to p25,000 para sa pag-rebuild noong mga bahay nila – ito iyong ibinibigay nating assistance. But this was also transferred, Sir Butch, to DHSUD, iyong Department of Housing and Urban Development – iyong bagong agency natin and nasa transitory period tayo ngayon, we are transferring to them the program kaya iyon po iyong when it comes to the stopgap natin while waiting dito sa passage nitong Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

As we see, very very important iyong measure na iyon to address iyong needs natin kasi sa setup noong proposed bill, Sir Butch, very holistic, as you said a while ago – holistic. Holistic government approach is what we need to address iyong disaster response kasi from monitoring what we’ve seen paulit-ulit iyong pagbaha sa mga same lugar, same locations so we thought na parang stopgap lang tayo, nagbibigay tayo ng ayuda pero kung kinakailangan lang nila, paulit-ulit iyong pagbibigay natin ng ayuda. Pero the more long-term response should be ayusin po natin ang ating mga drainage system, ang ating flood control programs sa mga local government units para hindi na paulit-ulit iyong pagbaha – that’s the long-term plan, and we need the DDR for that.

Q: Hello, OIC. Ted po from GMA News Online. Sir, sundatahan ko lang iyong parang may mga dumagsa sa NCR office ng DSWD. Ano nang na-solve ng investigation ninyo? may sabotahe ano ba ‘to? Bakit may nangyaring ganiyan?

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Sige. I think, Spokesman Asec. Romero already explained yesterday ‘no. We’re still investigating ‘no, hindi pa tapos iyong investigation natin. But initially iyon nga po ‘yung—ito nga po ‘yung sinasabi natin kanina na SLP project natin na we provide assistance for Sustainable Livelihood Programs – iyong mga parang puhunan ng ating mga kababayan na walang trabaho para sila’y makaahon sa hirap.

And the design of that program is—we designed it… our direction now is to use it for, as an exit program sa ating 4Ps graduate. Sa ‘pag naka-graduate sila sa 4Ps which we are anticipating over 600,000 graduates this year, doon naman sila lilipat sa SLP para iyong puhunan nga na iyon, pantuloy nila doon sa ano kasi mawawalan na sila ng subsidy na monthly so iyon na ‘yung pang-self sustain nila, iyong SLP natin when they will be given puhunan na P15,000 na panimula.

And so, ‘ayun nga… what happened iyong sa NCR is mayroong ongoing application. So iyong mga mag-a-apply doon with our NCR was able to accommodate initially early this month a hundred applicants. And then suddenly nagkaroon ng influx nga po, ang daming dumagsa, libu-libo… mga 2,000 plus iyong dumating the other night until yesterday. Kasi ang sistema po doon, ini-schedule iyong application – may assessment po kasi iyan eh. Iyong SLP natin may process po ito – may assessment, may interview, may visit pa po ito sa mga bahay ng applicants, talagang tsini-check kung eligible sila na tsini-check ng atin social worker kasi kailangan siguraduhin natin iyong pondo natin talagang napupunta sa mahihirap ‘no. So very… matindi iyong scrutiny natin dito sa proseso ng SLP natin.

And so, what happened there was… based on initial investigation, may kumalat po na text messages doon sa Bagbag, Quezon City na nagsasabi na may payout daw dito sa may NCR office namin. Mayroon din kaming nakita na mga fake Facebook accounts na nag-post/nag-announce noong mga… may payout nga na mangyayari. So dinagsa po kami doon sa NCR tulad noong pagdagsa sa amin noong nakaraang taon kung matatandaan ninyo ‘yung educational assistance namin. So we have an experience, similar experience na before kaya immediately we were able to handle it naman ano – before 9 A.M. na-clear na iyong crowd. So even if wala silang schedule that day, we gave them forms… binigyan po namin ng forms para ma-file nila iyong application nila at ma-assess din sila isa-sa kung eligible sila for the program.

Pero that’s just a quick response that we did kasi talagang ang proseso din dapat po ay sa local government po, na-arrange na po natin iyan. Kasi ang venue natin sa NCR po, masyadong masikip po doon sa venue na iyon, sa office ng NCR kung malalaman ninyo – ‘yung sa Legarda office namin hindi po kayang ma-accommodate dahil under construction po iyong opisina doon. So nasa labas, nagkalat talaga iyong mga tao and so what we did is temporarily we just gave them the application forms para isa-isahin nating ma-assess.

So, we accommodated din naman po but ‘ayun nga, we appeal to everybody na to always… siguro we monitor, we just rely on the on the official announcement of the government ‘no. Mayroon po kaming official Facebook page kung saan kami nag-a-announce ng mga programs at events namin. Iyong Department of Social Welfare and Development na may blue check po, that’s official page which has 1.3 million followers. So iyon po ‘yung mga—sa balita po tayo makinig, hindi po sa mga text messages na walang basehan, walang katotohanan. At sa mga Facebook accounts po na-report na rin namin sila and so ‘ayun..

Sir, to answer iyong question, ongoing pa po iyong investigation. And to add to that, actually yesterday, last night… iyong Facebook account of our NCR was hacked. So, we are coordinating with the relevant agencies na to discuss this matter ‘no. we’re trying to retrieve our Facebook page of our NCR office. This is different from the Central Office, this is our NCR office.

Q: Sir, follow up lang. Gaano po katagal iyong investigation and humingi ba kayo ng tulong sa PNP or NBI para imbestigahan ‘to kasi [unclear] tapos may mga text message pa na involved?

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Our NCR office actually initiated na to ask help from our NBI Cybercrime office to address this matter. And iyon nga, as part of the investigation, we will have to await the results of the investigation to determine kung—who could be behind this incident. But on our part, siguro whether or not this is deliberate… on our part in DSWD, we took it as an opportunity to serve kasi ‘ayun nga, dumagsa na nga sa amin iyong mga applicants ng SLP. So this is our target, iyong lalapit sa amin iyong mga tao para humingi ng tulong.

So we extended help to them, we gave them the application forms and we will assess them one by one if they are eligible. And just like the educational assistance experience we have last year; this is a wakeup call – we took it as a wakeup call that many of our Filipino countrymen still need help… na ang dami pa ring mahihirap nating kababayan na humihingi ng tulong and we have to address their needs. So that’s how we took it.

MODERATOR: One question before we give the floor to Mr. Ramon Orosa. We can go back to OIC Punay [unclear]…

Q: Good morning po. I’m [unclear] from People’s Tonight. I would just like to ask OIC Punay about—do you have any exact figure or estimate on how many legit 4Ps beneficiaries because you are doing cleansing isn’t it? But based on your statement kanina, parang hindi ko narinig kung how many iyong exact figure or estimate figure?

Then my second question is, you mentioned may mga guma-graduate from 4Ps and what are these criteria to make these beneficiaries to graduate as MSEs saying you’ll be giving P15,000 per beneficiary. So, ano ‘yung mga criteria as graduates of 4Ps?

Then, do you have any mechanism on how to monitor these graduates of 4Ps na hindi na sila babalik, na magiging successful iyong kanilang magiging business later on? Thank you po.

DSWD-OIC USEC. PUNAY: Thank you, ma’am. As we mentioned a while ago, though na-explain na natin further the process ‘no… so we’re guided by the law kasi, ma’am ‘no, ‘yung 4Ps law where specified there 4.4 million beneficiaries natin. And out of that 4.4, mayroon tayong mga exit mechanisms for the beneficiaries to graduate or to leave the program. So kasama nga po diyan iyong, what we call natural attrition – so when the household no longer has student, iyong naka-graduate na ng high school iyong estudyante ng beneficiary natin, they will automatically graduate from the program so iyon ‘yung natural attrition.

And also, another requirement is they will only last for the program for 7 years. So ‘pag naka-7 years na sa program, again natural attrition, kailangang grumaduate sila. And also, that’s why we have this regular assessment as provided in the law. We assess the status of these beneficiaries kasi kung mayroon doon nakaangat-angat na konti, hindi na sila poverty that’s why we monitor them regularly – every two years we have the Listahanan program na bina-validate itong mga beneficiaries. ‘Pag nakita po na hindi na sila mahirap, nakaangat-angat na… sabihin natin na nakakuha ng magandang trabaho, nakabili ng bahay, ng kotse so sila po ay pinapa-graduate din natin sa 4Ps ano, automatic po iyon.

Strict ang monitoring po natin dito so as I said a while ago, mayroon tayong more than 100,000 na napa-graduate last year – 100,000 out of the 4.4 million beneficiaries. And then dapat nga po may mapapa-graduate tayo pa na 1.3 million doon sa Listahanan 3 but that was outdated na kasi 2019 po iyon, hindi pa nakita iyong impact noong pandemic which was 2020 and 2021.

So ngayon, we’re reassessing at noong nag-initial validation tayo last year, mayroon pa po doon, out of the 1.3 million, may 500,000 pa po na nag-determine or na-tag as poor, still poor and eligible sa 4Ps doon sa ating validation.

So all in all, ang matatanggal po natin, 1.3 minus five, is 800,000. So 800,000 po ang expected natin na maaalis sa listahan this year. So iyon iyong ating papalitan ‘no, sa ating 4Ps program. Ito iyong mapapa-graduate po natin, iyong 100,000 initial na mapapa-graduate, sila po ang [unclear], i-accommodate natin sa SLP; sila po ay bibigyan ng puhunan.

At iyong SLP program po, matindi pong monitoring iyan. Kung kailangan iyong social worker natin ay quarterly or monthly mino-monitor or ina-assist sila, may ganoong provision po iyong ating IRR doon sa SLP. Kaya we make sure … ang commitment lang po natin sa DSWD ay talagang we are striking a balance between two mandates of DSWD ‘no: Number one is iyong to provide talaga iyong quick assistance, iyong mga kailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Kapag nanghingi sa amin, kailangan naming bigyan; hindi po kami puwedeng tumanggi, iyon ang aming mandato.

But on the other hand, on our administrative side, we have to make sure that we are giving the right beneficiaries because we are bound by COA rules. Kailangan din po naming mag-meet ng standards ng COA so we make sure na up to the last centavo ay mapupunta sa rightful beneficiary, iyong totoong mahihirap iyong natutulungan namin. Hindi kami naa-abuse ng mga repe-referral lang ng mga politicians na hindi naman mahihirap, hindi po namin puwedeng bigyan iyon. Iyong mga mahihirap lang po ang kailangan naming bigyan at ito po ay strictly monitored din ng COA. Nagsa-submit kami ng regular report sa kanila especially dito sa 4Ps, masyado pong istrikto po ang COA diyan – per beneficiary, tsinitsek nila that’s why very closed monitoring kami dito, ma’am.

MODERATOR: Mag-i-stay pa naman si OIC Punay, balikan natin. At this point, we’d like to give the floor to Mr. Ramon Orosa who will give us his views on the current economic situation given iyong agenda for the 8-point agenda ba iyon ng Marcos administration. And reports indicate that President Bongbong Marcos will launch a soft launch of the Maharlika Investment Fund in Davos, Switzerland this coming week. We’d like to know from economist Ramon Orosa his views on the current economic situation and how will the visit help iyong economic growth and development plan ng Marcos administration in the coming six years.

  1. RAMON OROSA: Thank you very much at magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat—[AUDIO CUT]

MODERATOR: Okay. We will have to shift gears at this point. We’d like to welcome Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista to give us an update on the price situation in so far as agricultural goods are concerned specifically iyong onions, tapos iyong impending crisis din yata sa eggs. Ano iyong masasabi ninyo rito?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Sorry po late ako, galing po ako sa Kadiwa sa PSG, sir.

With regards po doon sa onion, we are closely monitoring the farmgate price kasi nakita natin in December, tumaas po ang farmgate price. With the reports that we have gathered from our regional office pati po sa mga institutional buyers, they said mayroong umabot ng p450, P460 – so, iyon po ang naging situation sa bukid. Now, we are receiving reports that it went down to P250 per kilo already. But this is something that we have to validate because it might just be in one area. But so far, from the reports I am receiving from the farmers themselves and even some institutional buyers, there has been already a decline pagdating po sa farm gate price.

With that, we are also monitoring the retail price. We’ve seen that in December it went up as high as P720 per kilo, but now based on our daily monitoring of 13 markets here in Metro Manila, the prices are around P400 although every now and then we still see mga P550 ‘no. So, mataas pa rin po iyan considering the cost structure of the onions, this is the production cost because we also talk to our farmers to find out how much it costs to produce onions. Aside from that, HVC which is the high-value crop in the Department of Agriculture also has a computation. So, this is our guide every time we discuss price points, whether it is the farm gate price or the retail price. Kasi siyempre with the retail price, we have to consider the cost of the biyahero and the cost of the retailers or the tinderas.

So, as far as the onions are concerned we are looking at the prices that it’s supposed to go down already. One of course is also that there are more harvest this coming second week of January as promised by our stakeholders during the stakeholders meeting as compared to December. We have not reached the peak of the harvest because looking at the data that we have it’s really March wherein we have a lot of onions, at ito rin po iyong mga sibuyas na inilalagay sa mga cold storage, hindi ba po, para ma-extend iyong shelf life.

So, basically, sir, that’s what we’re doing right now, and we are still continuing trying to link our farmers with even retailers, and the mga palengke para mas mura po iyong kuha ng palengke, mas mura din po ang benta.

MODERATOR: But iyong presyo ng itlog, mukhang malaking isyu rin ito kasi madami ang gumagamit ng eggs, hindi ba?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Opo. Iyong sa itlog po, una pong tiningnan naming is iyong supply situation kasi mayroon pong mga areas na tinamaan po ng bird flu, so that would definitely affect the supply situation. But also we are looking into several layers, kasi nagsasabi rin naman iyong ating mga egg producers kung magkano iyong kuha sa kanila ng itlog, and then we compare it with that of the retail price.

So, we are coordinating with egg board also to see the supply situation, and if there are bottlenecks. Right now what we are doing also is to eliminate certain layers of traders because that will also help bring down the price. Hopefully, mas maganda ang production also of the eggs. There are some challenges that our egg producers are faced with that is now being addressed by our Bureau of Animal Industry, sir.

MODERATOR: How about iyong staple food ng mga Pinoy – iyong bigas? Ano iyong update dito? Hindi ba nangako ang Presidente na ibababa sa P20? Is that at all possible given iyong situation natin ngayon?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: We are working on several means to be able to bring down the cost of production ‘no. Kasi sa umpisa pa lang po, siyempre iyong palay kailangang mapababa, at the same time po iyong post-harvest because the accessibility of post-harvest facilities is also very important to be able to bring down the cost of bigas. Hindi lamang po diyan natatapos iyon – ang improvement of irrigation is also very important.

So, when we say we are working on bringing down the price of bigas – it all boils down to the improvement of the production area; not only the yield but efficiency as far as production is concerned dahil po kapag mas ang yield, at mas cost-efficient po ang pagtatanim ng ating mga magsasaka, including iyong kanilang post-harvest facilities then we are able to help bring down the prices. So, that is something we are working on, sir, sa Department of Agriculture. The lead of which is definitely our rice program. But PhilMech because of the mechanization is also very important, including the role of NIA which is the irrigation side naman po.

Q: Puwede bang magtanong tungkol sa bigas? Magtatanong lang ako sa inyo: Have you ever considered putting up green silos in which to store the rice instead of putting it in bodegas that’s subject to rats and all kinds of infestation?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: That is one of the things that the rice program is looking into – coming up with a processing plant wherein it’s complete with all the facilities. So, it’s not only that of the recirculating dryer or rice mill but the silos because I’m sure that the rice program looked into that even before but the viability, and I will just look into how many of those will happen in 2023, sir.

  1. RAMON OROSA: [Unclear] talking about this. I mean, we’re older than you that’s why I’m ‘no—we’ve been talking about this for generations, and nothing has been done by government, period.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: I think, yeah, exactly the reason why we saw the increase of prices. And at one point, we’ve seen that it is not viable anymore to compete with imported commodities. But now that we are focused on making our local produce competitive with imported, and that would definitely mean, we have to put all these infrastructures in place, accessibility to our farmers, which are the stakeholders. And most likely, we are also looking into our partnership with the local government unit because it’s not just putting up the facility but being able to maintain it, and part of that is sustainability.

So the side, sir, the one you mentioned, I will ask again the rice program and I will nag them in your behalf.

Q: I would you assess iyong impact ng Rice Tariffication Law? Has it benefited our farmers or made them poorer?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Well, the Rice Tariffication Law includes that of the … there’s a portion of which wherein our farmers were able to get RFFA. But, of course, it doesn’t end there. The mechanization, the access to credit, that’s also part of the Rice Tariffication Law. So I think that is something that we have to strengthen in order to help capacitate our farmers, become competitive, considering the stipulated in RTL.

So the part of access to credit, the part of trainings because we have to teach them also to come up, to shift towards a different way of planting. And the ayuda, which is the RFFA, is something that should help them also get by but not only that, it’s really making them competitive. So, I think the other part of the RTL which is the RCEF is something we have to strengthen as far as implementation is concerned, of which the PhilMech, the giving of machines is also very important. Because when we give the machine, it has to be appropriate to the type of hectare, the number of hectares being used by our farmers, and also their capability to use it and maintain it as well.

BERNADETTE REYES/GMA NEWS: Ma’am, sabi po ng UBRA sa isang panayam sa DZBB na ang isa raw po sa hiling nila sana is to lower the cost of feeds because ang mahal daw pong magpakain ng paitluging manok. Ano po ba ang status po ng Bird Flu ngayon sa bansa? Thank you.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Ma’am Badet, as far as the status of the Bird Flu, I will have to get in touch with our livestock group to have more accurate data regarding that. But definitely po kasi, iyong pagtaas po ng presyo ng agricultural inputs, iyan po ay isa sa mga rason kung bakit tumaas din po iyong cost of production. So iyon po iyong tinitingnan ng iba’t ibang mga programa whether it’s corn, rice or the livestock group in particular including the high value. Dahil if we are able to help our farmers, have access to cheaper agricultural commodities, then their cost of production will become lower and that will also help them become more competitive as far as price point is concerned.

So isa po iyon sa mga tinitingnan as far as production is concerned. But definitely, that will create an impact pagdating po doon sa ating mga retail prices.

BERNADETTE REYES/GMA NEWS: Ma’am, can you consider a subsidy po sa mga [inaudible]?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Well, we have been giving mga binhi. We’ve been giving fertilizers, ano. So maybe … I do not see any reason why we shouldn’t explore, looking into putting subsidy on feeds considering this is also an agricultural input. And we can discuss it with the livestock group, but maybe they’re already having talks regarding this. I will find out, ma’am.

But in the same manner that we’ve given, again, we’ve given seeds; we’ve given fertilizers; we gave tractors and other machineries, then helping the livestock sector with their challenges as far as agricultural inputs is concerned is something that definitely has to be looked into.

Q: Hi, Asec. Ted po from GMA News Online. Since nag-expire na po iyong MOA with FTI, magkano po iyong naging losses natin kasi subsidized iyong pagbenta natin ng onion at 170 eh? Tapos for the next cycle, subsidized pa rin po ba tapos magkano po iyong budget? And, last na po, when i-start iyong next cycle ng onion sa Kadiwa?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Iyong start po ng next cycle sa Kadiwa will be dependent on the supplemental MOA that we have to work on together with the FTI because sila po iyong nagpo-procure. So iyan po ay ating tinitingnan ngayon. We know for a fact that there is an investigation by the Ombudsman. So those are things that have to be considered as well and also, including the other reports from FTI such as the liquidation report, inventory report. And when we get hold of that, only then can we decide our ways forward and how we can—the objective always is to find a means to be able to give our consumers accessibility to agricultural commodities, that will always be the direction. But as far as the MOA with FTI is concerned, we are discussing this with them together with our legal team.

Q: Ma’am, magkano iyong naging budget natin for the subsidized onion sa Kadiwa?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: The budget is at 140 million pesos ‘no. So the liquidation report from the FTI will be important to see how much of the funds were used and fund management as well. We’ve also asked for the list of farmers wherein they bought the onions, and also the sales inventory, remaining stocks and the dispatching report.

Q: Ma’am, last na. Sa egg, hindi ba mataas na iyong presyo. Nakikita po ba natin na tatagal itong trend na mataas iyong presyo ng itlog? Gaano po katagal siya?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA:  Para po ma-determine natin kung ang presyo ng itlog ay tuluy-tuloy na tataas, we have to look into again the cost of production if that is the root cause. Because if it is the layers of traders that is causing the price hike pagdating po sa itlog, what we are doing now is we are linking cooperatives. Not only sa Kadiwa po sila nagbibenta but there are some wet markets also na kumukuha na po sila sa ating mga cooperatives. So, we will continue doing that while the production team naman po, ang ating operations and ang ating livestock group will handle that of the production aspect.

  1. RAMON OROSA: Can I ask you a question, ma’am? Have you ever considered legislation [inaudible] collectivization of rice lands particularly considering that our yields in this country are still way, way below what you experienced in Thailand, in Malaysia, and India, and Pakistan, and everywhere else in the world so that the economies of scale can be achieved? Because if you’re just going to rely on land reform but you don’t even give credit, you don’t give this, you don’t give that, kulang-kulang that’s why it has never worked. But if you only have two to three hectares to till, you are going to be a very inefficient farm. And that’s part of the problem, that’s why they always remain poor. And after Land Reform, ten years later, they sell that land anyway. But I think you need legislation to enable the collectivization so that the production can become much more efficient. [Inaudible]

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Programs that have to be institutionalized and the other bottlenecks that we are seeing is something that we’d also like to work with the legislative body to see how we can come up with a long-term solution. So legislation on that, sir, is actually something being studied and I hope it could be pursued.

CORY MARTINEZ/PEOPLE’S TONIGHT: This question is about—I’m an observer, as a reporter and a consumer. Kasi since the assumption of Marcos administration, it seems may mga series na ng mga pagtaas ng prices ng mga basic commodities. Since nag-start, sa rice, sa sugar, sa prices ng baboy, then ito iyong …mayroon pang asin, mayroon pang onion, and now itlog. Would you think, is there a pattern na somehow a group or any stakeholder who wanted to sabotage or always speculating na magkakaroon ng high prices?

Although there are some reasons behind kung bakit tumataas iyong mga basic commodities na ito but based on my observation, not only as a reporter, pati consumer kasi consumer din ako – so, bakit hindi natatapos? Itong onion pababa na siya, okay. But now ito, mayroong itlog na naman na tataas and it is also a basic commodity.

And you mentioned na possible iyong cost production and you mentioned bird flu. And I’m covering DA for how many years, I think that was two years ago pa na talagang naapektuhan nang matindi itong poultry industry. Pero ngayon parang wala nang masyadong ano eh, cases ng bird flu. So, would you see any pattern na possible speculations from other sectors with regards to this situation on basic commodities?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Thank you very much, ma’am, and what you’ve observed is something that reached our office. And actually, yeah, I feel you… I feel you. Well, we have field inspectorate assistant secretary who is also into the investigation of whatever it is that’s happening on the grounds and that includes those who are part of the value chain to see if there are certain bottlenecks.

So, that I would have to leave to our field inspectorate assistant secretary who’s also with intel, so those are things that he is looking into as well. But while we are faced with all these challenges, we are focused on trying to find solutions. Some of the challenges I believe have been there but maybe this is the best time to find solutions together with legislation. So, yes, I understand where you’re coming from, ma’am, and that is also I think a different group is looking into.

Senator Villar for that matter mentioned that ‘no, that there are cartels and I believe that a group in the Department of Agriculture, and I think other government agencies also are helping out to see that angle that you feel and most of the public has observed.

Q: [Off mic]

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: We have Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban who is in constant communication with our Secretary as well. So with regards to the implementation and the recommendations of different units in the DA to be able to address issues, and also come up with programs to proactively service our stakeholders is being done. So the presence of Senior Undersecretary, Usec. Panganiban is also very important as far as the Department is concerned with his close relations with our Secretary so that we know that our implementations and the programs that we have been proposing can be implemented well with proper safety nets, Ma’am.

Q: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat… Asec. Evangelista at ganoon din kay Usec. Punay. Pero kay Asec muna ako kasi siya pinakamaganda sa inyo eh. Asec., balikan ko lang po iyong sibuyas. Nabanggit ninyo po kanina may paparating na sibuyas. Ito ba ‘yung in-import natin—iyong mga sibuyas na ito, in-import natin na sibuyas? And then nasabi ninyo rin po na masasabay ito sa harvest this week ng mga sibuyas mula sa mga probinsiya. Kailan po iyong dating ng in-import po nating sibuyas?

At ito namang paparating na galing sa magsasaka, ano pong magiging presyo po niyan? At sinabi ninyo bababa… mayroon ding P170 ang kilo ng sibuyas galing sa Kadiwa pero ang liit po, kasing laki ng itlog ng pugo at malabot pa kaya namimilit. So, gaano tayo kasigurado na talagang bababa na ang presyo sa, fix na natin, sa P170? Ang hirap po ng walang halong sibuyas kapag kumakain ka, ‘pag nagluluto ng ulam. Gaano po tayo kasigurado diyan na hindi maaabuso iyong bentahan na iyan kasi by size po iyan eh… alam naman din po ninyo ‘di ba, depende doon sa size kasi iyong size na mas malaki, mga ganito kalaki, mas mahal. Iyong small size, mas mura; iyong mas small pa – P170…wala ka nang makain.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Sir, iyong sa P170 po sa Kadiwa although mayroon pong mga maliliit din, mayroon pong mga ganiyan kalalaki. Pero admittedly, sir, hindi po ito kasing laki noong mga imported na mga sibuyas na napakaganda’t napakalaki pero mayroon na pong ganiyan.

Iyong sibuyas po natin, ang isa rin po sa rason kung bakit maliliit ‘no kasi iyong harvest po, mayroon po kaming nakita na binunot na, minadali na nila kaya hindi pa po kasing laki ng dapat ‘no. So ito po ay segurong pamamaraan para magkaroon tayo ng sibuyas at that time na masyado nang mataas ang sibuyas. At kahit po iyong sibuyas na nakikita po namin sa palengke ay hindi po iyong local onions, hindi po kasing ganda noong dati dahil hinahango na nga po.

Just to let you know, sir ‘no, ang naging situation sa bukid ay mayroon na pong nangungontrata sa ating mga magsasaka – isang ektarya, babayaran kita ng ganitong halaga. So while we are trying to have a supply outlook based on the projected harvest of our stakeholders, I think it’s also very important and this we’ve seen to know where the produce goes. Sino ang bumili sa ating magsasaka, saan dinala para maintindihan po natin bakit ganoon ang presyo. Iyon din po ang paraan para magkaroon tayo ng tamang supply situation pagdating po sa datos.

So pagdating naman po doon sa mini-mention ninyo tungkol sa importation, iyong harvest po na ini-expect natin sa ating magsasaka, iyan po ay taken into consideration by both the Bureau of Plant Industry on the high value crop which is, it’s a bureau, and our unit in charge of that certain commodity.

So a calibrated importation was something they had to look into. As of now, we are waiting for reports kung ilan po ang nag-apply and at the same time I don’t know if you noticed, mayroon pong cutoff iyong atin importation ano unlike before. So these are the certain parameters that the Bureau of Plant Industry put in place to be able to safeguard also iyong harvest po ng ating mga magsasaka.

Q: Asec, last question na lang po. Nabanggit ninyo kanina at ng isa sa mga kasamahan natin iyong mataas na presyo ng itlog. Minu-monitor ninyo din ba ho iyong itlog ng pugo baka tumaas din ang presyo? Salamat po.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Sir, honestly ang itlog ng pugo po, hindi po namin minu-monitor ang presyo kasi sa ating monitoring po – pero we can also look into that, that is very valid – sa ating monitoring po na everyday sa mga palengke, iyong medium po ang ating tini-take into consideration kasi base din po sa data, iyan ang kadalasang hinahanap ng ating mga consumers.

Pero sa pakikipag-ugnayan din po sa ating mga stakeholders, tinitingnan po natin iyong size ng itlog kasi nakikita din po natin na minsan mayroon pong pagkakataon na ang nagbibenta po sa retail sasabihin nila large ito, ito ang presyo pero hindi naman pala. So that’s something also we are looking into kasi nag-iiba po ang presyo ng itlog base po doon sa small, medium, large at saka jumbo, sir.

MODERATOR: May tanong ka sa DSWD ‘no? O sige, last two questions na lang before we ask them to… Sige, sino iyong magtatanong nauna?

Q: Patrick, Asec, from PTV. Mayroon pong ilang mga magsasaka nga po na nagwu-worry nga daw po dahil baka magkaroon ng oversupply dahil iyong kanilang harvest ay baka masabay doon sa imported. So, ano po iyong preparations ngayon ng DA in terms of doon sa cold storage facilities?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Hindi lamang po doon sa cold storage facility ‘no kami naghahanda para diyan, pati doon sa ating market linkage. Mayroon po kaming mga ina-identify na mga institutional buyers na ito po ay hinihikayat namin na patuloy bumili ng lokal na sibuyas dahil nga po alam natin na the imported will compete with the local ‘no. So trying to find ways to secure iyong merkado po para sa ating local is something iyong market linkage team naman po natin ang in charge diyan.

Pagdating po sa cold storage facility, I believe that since the Bureau of Plant Industry has a list of accredited cold storage facilities, then there is a way to monitor kung sino po ang naglalagay sa cold storage. In the past, this is one of the challenges that DTI was faced with when they were looking for the inventory.

So iyong paggamit po ng ating magsasaka ng cold storage is important, plus of course, additional cold storage facilities. Iyan po ay kasama sa budget po ng Department of Agriculture. I would just have to check kung gaano karami po ang ipinasok diyan. But this is meant to strategically located kung nasaan po iyong production area. So pagdating po sa sibuyas, ang atin pong pinag-uusapan ay, of course, ang number one producer ay Nueva Ecija; nandiyan din po ang Mindoro; nandiyan ang Tarlac, Pangasinan at siyempre po sa Ilocos mayroon din. So iyong mga cold storage facilities for these areas are being part of the measures that the department is taking.

Q: Ma’am, iyong unang shipment po ng imported onions, kailan po iyong dating? At saka maglalagay ba tayo ng suggested retail price on that?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Iyan po ay we are still discussing, iyong sinabi ninyo tungkol doon sa SRP doon sa imported. But iyong unang … iyong pagdating po, I will have to ask the Bureau of Plant Industry kung, una, ilan po ang nag-apply. And based doon sa ilan ang nabigyan ng permit, makikita po kung kailan ang expected na dating. Pero makikita po natin na up to January 27 lang po ‘no, mayroon tayong cut off sa pagdating ng mga sibuyas, sir.

Q: Asec., nabanggit ninyo po 140M iyong budget doon sa Kadiwa onion na binibenta. Ilan po iyong volume na iyon, iyong binili ng gobyerno para ibagsak sa Kadiwa?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Sa ngayon po ‘no, I will have to wait for the report of the FTI kasi sila nga po iyong nag-procure ng sibuyas. Siyempre titingnan po natin diyan iyong farmgate price ng sibuyas, magkano nila nabili, at iyong kanilang inventory. So I think at this point, it would be prudent to wait for the report of the Food Terminal, Inc., sir.

Q: Tapos, ito po ba iyong kasama sa iniimbestigahan ng Ombudsman?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: [OFF MIC-INAUDIBLE]

CNN PHILS: Hingi lang po ako ng soundbite doon sa FTI pa rin, iyong nasabi ninyo rin na possible na magpalit, palitan iyong FTI if ever or hindi na ituloy talaga iyong 170 sa Kadiwa.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Gusto po nating ituloy ang pagkakaroon ng murang sibuyas ng Kadiwa. That is part of our commitment and that is the Kadiwa program in itself. Ang programa pong food mobilization looks into how we can provide iyong accessibility nga po ‘no. So there are other means that we are exploring. Although if you look at it kasi, ma’am, FTI’s mandate includes that of buying and selling agricultural commodities. And in the past, during the time of President Marcos, Sr. Kadiwa was really an FTI program; it was implemented. So it would be nice to move back to that wherein the produce are being procured and sold at practically farmgate price ‘no.

So that is something that we are exploring and also looking into the capability of our partners and what other means to improve because we also want to continue. Sabi nga po namin, kaya kami po ay tumitingin sa supplemental MOA kasi gusto po nating ipagpatuloy ang pagkakaroon ng 170 na sibuyas. So isa po iyan sa ating mga ginagawa. Sorry for not answering call, ma’am. Nahanap mo rin ako.

Q: Pero, Asec., kinu-consider din natin kumuha ng ibang pagkukunan for the second cycle?

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Kinu-consider natin—for the second cycle, ito nga po iyong kailangan naming pag-usapan with the FTI. Because the second cycle is actually, the proceeds of the sales, iyon po ay gagamitin pambili muli ng sibuyas. So kumbaga, nakikita nating bumababa ang farmgate price, so si FTI din po ay dapat namo-monitor na iyan ‘no. So kung binili niya ito ng ganitong halaga at one point, pagdating po sa buwan na ito ay bumaba na, so mag-iiba rin po iyong cost structure ng FTI.

But definitely, the intention was really to have funds for FTI to continue procuring as a trading capital kasi ito po ang nakikita nating tulong na maibibigay natin sa ating mga consumers as well.

PHIL. STAR: For Usec. Edu. Kumusta iyong government response sa … iyong mga nabiktima ng baha sa Visayas ang Mindanao? And pahabol ko na rin and second question: May nakikita ba tayong parang concerted effort doon sa nangyayari ngayon sa DSWD? Kasi the first time iyong sa educational assistance, tapos ngayon mayroon naman sa … iyong sa NCR. And iyon nga, nabanggit ninyo na may mga lumalabas nga na mga fake postings.

DSWD USEC. PUNAY: Thank you, Sir Manny. Doon sa disaster response po natin, iyon nga sinabi natin kanina, binisita ng ating mahal na Pangulo iyong Misamis Oriental at Misamis Occidental, talagang extraordinary times po ito, kumbaga ay climate change is real ‘no. Tatlong convergence ng weather systems ang nangyayari po doon ngayon sa same areas, Eastern Visayas at Northern Mindanao. Mula sa shear line mula noong Pasko, biglang nagkaroon ng northeast monsoon at sumabay pa iyong mga low pressure areas. So talagang tuluy-tuloy iyong pagbaha doon.

May natala po tayo na 1.8 million na individuals na apektado po ‘no dito sa Regions VIII, IX at X. More than three weeks na po silang binabaha doon, pabalik-balik ang pagbabaha. Sa utos naman ng Pangulo, talagang agaran tayong nagbigay ng assistance. At so far, naka-distribute na po ang DSWD ng 88 million in total assistance po dito via food, non-food at mga emergency cash assistance natin na bigay sa ating mga affected communities doon.

At this point po, mayroong 378 na evacuation centers na still existing in those regions with 102,500 individuals there. And we are happy to report naman na somehow na kahit ganito ka-challenging, mayroon pa po tayong 1.2 billion available stockpiles and quick response fund na panresponde.

Now to your second question, siguro uulitin lang natin ang sinabi natin kanina na this is under investigation. Actually, just this morning, our NCR Regional Office sought the help of the cybersecurity group of DICT to address iyong hacking incident sa kanilang Facebook account and also iyong mga fake announcement via text and Facebook accounts. But with regard to the different angles, possible angles, we leave to the investigator, to appropriate authorities to make such pronouncement. Basta kami sa DSWD, ang perspective natin dito, kapag dinudumog tayo ng tao, this is an opportunity to serve our people. We will accommodate everybody for as long as they’re in front of our offices. Thank you, sir.

MODERATOR: Okay. We’d like to ask our three guests to give their closing remarks. And maybe, please make yourself available for one-on-one interviews by media. Sige, umpisahan na natin kay ano, aalis siya eh.

DSWD USEC. PUNAY: Iyong sa amin po sa DSWD, 2022 was a banner year. Ang dami naming na-serve na millions of Filipinos na nangangailangan. Ang dami naming reports na in-implement under the new administration of President BBM because his directive is really for the government to reach out to as many as we can na nangangailangan. Talagang dudoblehin natin ang ating mga beneficiaries, ang numero ng ating mga beneficiaries para maka-expand iyong reach ng ating mga social services programs. At makakaasa po kayo na tuluy-tuloy iyong mga reporma nating i-implement sa DSWD. At iyon nga, ang commitment ng administration na ito ay mas marami kaming tutulungan. Sisiguraduhin natin na lahat ng nangangailangan, as much as possible, ma-address. Salamat po.

MODERATOR: Closing statement, si Mr. Orosa muna.

  1. RAMON OROSA: I think that what faces the government today is what to do on the international stage from an economic standpoint. Are we going to fall for the program of the … from the billionaire, elitists in the world to try to develop a one-world government subject to the compass of the World Economic Forum of Klaus Schwab, or shall we plot our own course? I’ve already given you a background on what I think is so unfortunate about … and the reality behind the World Economic Forum and the program of Klaus Schwab that is they’re trying to, you know, take all the other heads of government to join them. But the one-world government, I think, we have to make our own stand as a small nation to say, “Thank you, but no thanks,” and pursue our own path and do whatever we can. But, of course, there is another [unclear] for us to be a lot more efficient and effective in our macro and micro policies not just with agriculture but also with industry and other aspects of the economy.

And we have nothing to prove to anybody except to ourselves and that we can stand before God and say, “We acquit ourselves because we have done what was possible and been able to have a degree of success in governing this nation and making it grow a little bit richer.”

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Asec., parting shot.

DA ASEC. EVANGELISTA: Well, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me here in this media forum. There are some friends I’ve seen and new friends I hope that will help us disseminate information.

And as far as the Department of Agriculture is concerned, our direction has been clear, which is to increase production, that will also mean bringing down the cost of production. The other side of it is making agricultural commodities accessible and affordable to consumers. So with that, on the side of the consumer affairs, we will always be focusing on trying to minimize the layers of traders that cause the prices of agricultural commodities to be exorbitantly high. So, by minimizing layers of traders will also mean capacitating our cooperatives to take on their roles. But definitely, this is a direction that we will continue to take. We will minimize middlemen in the transactions to be able to be fair to our primary stakeholders which are the producers, and also protect consumers as well.

So thank you very much, sir.

MODERATOR:  Okay. On that note, we would like to conclude this Saturday’s edition of our regular news forum. I’d like to thank Usec. and OIC Edu Punay, Mr. Ramon Orosa, and Asec. Kristine Evangelista of the Department of Agriculture.

##