Marcos urged to pick ‘apolitical’ DSWD Sec

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President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has been urged to choose a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary who has no plans to run for an elective position.

“We would urge the President to appoint a DSWD secretary who is not interested or involved in politics, and who has a lot of compassion for the poor and marginalized,” House of Representatives Minority Leader Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan said.

“The country does not need a DSWD head who is keen on running for public office in the 2025 or 2028 elections,” Libanan said.

A department chief who has his or her sights set on a future election would be easily distracted at work, Libanan pointed out.

The recent widespread flooding in Eastern Visayas and other parts of the country has betrayed the need for a fast-acting DSWD, according to Libanan, who previously represented Eastern Samar’s lone district in Congress before he was elected 4Ps Party-list representative.

Due to weather disturbances in the first two weeks of 2023, rains, floods and landslides claimed the lives of 17 people across the country and distressed a total of 523,991 individuals from 121,950 families, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

In the 2023 General Appropriations Law, Libanan said the DSWD has a budget of P4.12 billion for Disaster Response and Management, including P1.75 billion for a Quick Response Fund (QRF).

The QRF is a stand-by fund for rehabilitation and relief activities, including the prepositioning of goods and equipment to help quickly normalize living conditions in communities hit by calamities and other emergencies.

The post of DSWD secretary became vacant after the bicameral Commission on Appointments bypassed Erwin Tulfo’s appointment over libel and citizenship issues in December.

Undersecretary Edu Punay, a former journalist, has been designated DSWD officer-in-charge.