DSWD Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) welcomed on Saturday (Jan. 20) Malacañang’s issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 52, institutionalizing and expanding the agency’s Oplan Pag-Abot. Oplan Pag-Abot is geared towards reaching out to families, children, and individuals in street situations and provide them with the necessary interventions.

“We, at the DSWD, are pleased to be the lead agency of this program to ensure the effective delivery of services to disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals living in the streets,” Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez, who is also concurrent DSWD spokesperson, said.

“We also thank President Marcos for recognizing the significance of this initiative  pioneered  by DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian by institutionalizing it through EO 52,” Lopez added.

Signed on Thursday (Jan. 18) by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, EO No. 52 provides for the creation of an Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) for Oplan Pag-Abot which aims to further enhance and unify the delivery of services to vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors in street situations through the provision of social safety nets.

“The DSWD is ready to undertake the necessary steps for the expansion and institutionalization of the reach-out operations for children, individuals, and families who are staying and living on the streets,” Lopez stressed.

According to EO No. 52,  the DSWD Secretary will chair the inter-agency committee while the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be the vice chair.

The EO 2 provides that the members of the inter-agency committee include the respective secretaries of the agriculture, labor, health, budget, and education departments; director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); chairperson of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP); the president and chief executive officer of the Small Business Corp.; and the administrator of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

“With this EO, we are assured that the current efforts of the  DSWD’s Pag-Abot Team are complemented with various services and assistance packages to be provided by the member and concerned agencies,” Lopez said.

Under the EO, the inter-agency committee is required to engage and consult the local government units (LGUs) and other government agencies in policy formulation and program implementation, as well as coordinate and seek support from the private sector, relevant stakeholders, advocacy groups, and non-government organizations.

“The Inter-Agency Committee shall develop an integrated monitoring framework and a digital monitoring system containing a database of verified individual, family and community beneficiaries, which shall measure and capture all developed deliverable areas and indicators. The Inter-Agency Committee shall also come up with a comprehensive and integrated sustainability plan,” the EO read.

The committee is also tasked to develop a strategic communication plan to educate the people and advocate for supportive policies at the local level, in coordination with the Presidential Communications Office.

Launched in July 2023 as a priority program of Secretary Rex Gatchalian, Oplan Pag-Abot is being implemented in Metro Manila to reach out to people living and staying on the streets and provide them with the appropriate interventions, as well as opportunities to improve their social and economic status and fulfill their fundamental rights.