ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—The scheduled second week of payout of sorts by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for educational assistance to identified beneficiaries in the country may have fared better than the first Saturday that was marred by large crowds desperate to receive cash aid for their schoolchildren.
Yes indeed it was ugly. Based on the videos and photos I saw on my social media feed, the first Saturday of the DSWD educational cash aid allocation was anything but orderly, efficient and effective. On the contrary, it was a prime example of what government agencies ought NOT to do when pledging to deliver something to a highly expectant public. What happened on that first Saturday was a failure of communication on the DSWD’s part.
The onrush of indigent families and the size of the crowds that surrounded the DSWD offices across the country showed their level of desperation and need for cash aid in these pandemic times. In Cagayan de Oro City for one, large crowds of claimant families had to be turned away by management of a big mall hours after the families learned from a Facebook post that school cash aid would be given in that mall on Friday or the day before the actual cash aid doleout.
Turned out that the Facebook post referred to the Luzon branch of the big mall and not the Cagayan de Oro City branch. But that bit of misinformation had not only inconvenienced the crowd of claimant families, some of whom fainted due to the heat caused by the overcrowding, it also unfairly shifted part of the blame on the mall management.
To be clear the mall management had nothing to do with the misleading FB post and in fact they can also be considered as being victimized by whoever posted it in the first place. Whoever posted that misleading FB post may now be hiding in anonymity either out of shame or silent glee at the major inconvenience he or she or it caused on the claimant families.
That said, the onus of the blame for the first Saturday’s botched debacle of a cash aid doleout lies principally on DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo. In camping out overnight outside the DSWD office prior to the cash aid distribution, the claimant families alleged that Tulfo promised them that all would be accommodated and given the cash aid ranging from P1K to a maximum P3K to P4K depending on the number of schoolchildren of the parents.
A P1,000 cash aid may not be much for middle income families considering the school expenses that somehow increased even with a two-year absence of face-to-face (F2F) classes (methinks the schools are making up for their two-year losses by raising their tuition which won’t be surprising at all) but for these mostly indigent claimant families, P1,000 can buy their children notebooks and bags and some extra allowance.
One interesting tidbit: Erwin Tulfo is among the media practitioners that were implicated in the now infamous Aug. 23, 2010 2010 Rizal Park hostage tragedy that claimed the lives of eight Hong Kong Chinese hostages and the hostage taker, a disgruntled ex-police officer. I won’t bore you with a detailed account but suffice it to say that you can research all about it in Google.
I wondered whether President Bongbong Marcos made the mistake in appointing Erwin Tulfo and not the other Tulfo, Sen. Raffy Tulfo, whose TV program ‘Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo’ propelled him to nationwide fame sufficient enough to secure him a seat in the Senate. Raffy Tulfo’s handling of complaints by ordinary citizens in his program showed him to be more qualified than Erwin, whose style is akin more to the eldest Tulfo brother, Ramon Tulfo.
At any rate, what I know is that regardless of how other people see it, the cash aid assistance should be sustained by the national government because a lot of indigent families need it not only at this time but in the immediate known future. Secretary Tulfo should stop blaming the people for misunderstanding his previous claim that there won’t be walk-in claimants. Only those listed online should be allowed to claim the cash aid at either the DSWD office or a designated venue.
And yes, Secretary Tulfo should have secured the support of all local governments including Cagayan de Oro City Hall in their school cash aid distribution. As it is, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy had to issue instructions to the CSWD to coordinate with the DSWD in order to avoid repeating the debacle. I hope that better work is done in distributing the educational cash aid to poor but deserving students.