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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DSWD to Pantawid beneficiaries: Don’t be cowed by ‘epals’

By Dominic I. Sanchez

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here is renewing its call to the beneficiaries of its poverty-alleviation programs to not be threatened by politicians who may use said programs to their advantage.

Earlier, DSWD-9 Regional Director Zenaida Arevalo said that members of the Pantawid Pamilya “owe nothing to politicians,” hence they should not be taken advantage of by politicians.

Since 2013 the DSWD has been campaigning for the beneficiaries to be aware of their rights as members of Pantawid. It used the slogan “Bawal ang Epal Dito” (Epals are illegal here), emphasizing that Epals, a Tagalog slang for someone who likes to butt in on others’ accomplishments and use it for their own advantage, are not to be tolerated.

One example, shared by DSWD-9 Information Officer Ivan Salvador, is when politicians threaten Pantawid members of being de-listed from the program if they do not favor them, particularly during campaigns and elections.

“They cannot do this, since only the DSWD has the authority to de-list a beneficiary if they are delinquent in their co-responsibilities,” Director Arevalo said.

Other scenarios include politicians that print tarpaulins with their pictures cropped alongside DSWD programs.

Meanwhile, Salvador said that guidelines for this year’s campaign would be released by the national office. He expects that there will be a rollout of forums on the Anti-Epal advocacy.

Salvador especially appeals to the members of the media to help them disseminate the anti-epal advocacy drive. “We really need the help of our stakeholders in this, especially the media to reach out to all our beneficiaries who may be taken advantage of in the coming elections,” he said.

Pantawid Pamilya this year has been allocated over P64 billion to cover its over 4 million household-beneficiaries all over the country.