Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista said the agency will look into the proposal of President Duterte to have a shelter for released old prisoners.
“We will assess at titingnan po namin kung paano po tayo makakatulong sa direktiba ng Pangulo,” Bautista told Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday at the Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed budget for 2020.
During the hearing, the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance asked Bautista if DSWD has intervention for old inmates as President Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Corrections to prioritize the release of qualified ageing inmates.
According to Go, he saw the situation of some inmates at the New Bilibid Prison Hospital when he recently visited the prison.
“Ang problema, paglabas nila, saan sila pupunta? So we need government intervention for that,” said Go.
“Sometimes they opt to go back to prison na lang kasi wala nang mag-aalaga. Sanay na po sila sa community na kanilang nagigisingan po. So, ano pong ginagawa natin? Do we have a home for the aged where they can go to (when freed)?” he asked.
The DSWD Secretary said dependents of some inmates benefit from existing programs of the agency.
“Ang importante lang sa amin is to identify all of them and at the same time prioritize other benefits para sa kanila,” said Bautista.
Meanwhile, the committee approved DSWD’s proposed 2020 budget of P158.6 billion, which includes P101.8 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Go thanked the DSWD for the help it extends whenever he visits victims of fire and other disasters and for being one of the government agencies that support Malasakit Centers. These centers serve as one-stop shops for ailing Filipinos seeking financial assistance.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa DSWD dahil nakakasama ko po sila sa tuwing bumababa ako sa mga nasunugan at sa mga nasalanta ng sakuna. Isa rin po sila sa mga agencies na nagbibigay ng assistance sa Malasakit Centers,” he said.
Malasakit Centers, which have been opened in 42 locations nationwide to date, was initiated by Go when he was the Special Assistant to the President. President Rodrigo Duterte credits Go for giving him the idea of establishing the centers.
“I am one with DSWD in its vision to free all Filipinos from hunger and poverty, have equal access to opportunities, enabled by a fair, just and peaceful society,” Go said.
“I fully support the DSWD in the fulfillment of its mandate, as I work with them hand-in-hand to extend assistance to our fellow countrymen who are hopeless and helpless,” he added.