CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION-  With the aim to safeguard social protection programs and services especially the beneficiaries from politicians and socio-political bodies that try to use them to gain widespread support, or political clout in the different areas of the region, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Field Office CAR (DSWD FO CAR) relaunched the Bawal ang Epal Dito campaign through the ceremonial signing of the joint agreement on the Anti-Epal Campaign with the Department of Interior and Local Government Cordillera (DILG-CAR) and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) held last 23 March 2022 at Baguio Crown Legacy Hotel. 

DSWD FO-CAR Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, CESO II, COMELEC Regional Director, Atty. Ederlino Tabilas and DILG-CAR Division Chief, Marleen Guerzon to represent Regional Director Araceli A. San Jose, CESO IV inked the Anti-Epal Memorandum of Agreement. This was witnessed by National Economic and Development Authority Cordillera (NEDA-CAR) representative Maris Cabato, Philippine Information Agency Cordillera (PIA-CAR) Representative Debbie Gasingan, and Philippine National Police-Police Regional Office Cordillera (PNP-PROCOR) Representative PMAJ Willy Dumansi.

The Anti-Epal MOA aims to strengthen the initiative of the prior call for the insulation of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries from undue political influences, as well as the assurance that they will have the free will to choose their candidates without coercion or pressure.

The 2022 agreement covers all social protection programs and services. This reinforces the campaign against politicians who claim that the accomplishment of public projects is due to their efforts and initiatives. This also includes politicians who claim that they have the authority to enroll and remove beneficiaries from social protection programs such 4Ps, Sustainable Livelihood Program, Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, and Assistant to Individual Crisis Situations, among others. 

The MOA highlights that the DSWD FO-CAR is the lead implementing agency of the abovementioned programs and it has the sole authority to set policy conditions, implement programs, and enroll and remove households from its programs. 

According to DSWD FO-CAR Regional Director Garcia, the agency, being the lead in social protection, welfare, and development that contributes to poverty reduction and empowerment through the formulation and implementation of programs and services in the region, will endeavor to continue to actualize their mandate of providing public service to their beneficiaries and poor communities, free from “epals”. This is also the agency’s way of contributing to a clean, fair, and honest election in the country. 

Epal is a colloquial Filipino term referring to someone who wants to call for public attention, often through credit-grabbing and engaging in unjust and opportunistic activities. 

Pledge of Commitment Signing

Apart from the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement, DSWD FO-CAR also spearheaded the signing of the pledge of commitment. In support of this initiative, representatives and officials from DSWD FO-CAR, NEDA-CAR, DILG-CAR, COMELEC, PROCOR, PIA-CAR and some political aspirants of Baguio City signed the pledge of commitment. 

The act of signing is a symbol of the officials’ recognition and acknowledgment of their roles in upholding the integrity and dignity of social protection programs and services, especially amidst the election season. This includes not attempting to mislead or to misinform the public and beneficiaries using falsified, altered, or manipulated information for their political and personal gains.

The campaign is in congruence with the directive of DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista Jr. to inform the public that DSWD is apolitical and will continue to deliver unbiased service to the Filipino people. #DSWD-CAR,  SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Lorillie R.  Gonzales

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