Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)- Cold breeze, picturesque landscape, and mouthwatering pasalubongcome to mind when one hears Baguio City. With these and more that the city has to offer attract not just tourists but individuals such as students and workers who consider Baguio City as their second home. As a result, the City has become a melting pot of culture, and in effect is the rise of diverse challenges in ensuring that the welfare and well-being of people in the city are taken care of.
Baguio City caters to an estimated 500 poor households based on the 2019 Listahanan data, and hundreds of thousands of other residents and even tourists. The Baguio City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) remains committed to its mandate to uplift well-being of the disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors through its various programs and services intended for different clientele category including Family Heads and other Needy Adults (FHONA), children, youth, women, persons with disability, senior citizens, and the community.
To bring their services closer to the people, Baguio CSWDO clustered the 128 barangays of Baguio into unit offices manned by a team of social welfare officers and allied staff. In 2017, six (6) unit offices were established and this grew in number through the years until they were able to complete the target of ten (10) unit offices in 2021. The unit offices enabled a more efficient delivery of social welfare services to the different barangays which brought positive impact as shown in the increase of served clients and budget utilization. Baguio CSWDO showed an increase in the number of cases served in 2021 with a total of 45, 625 compared to 34,986 in 2020.
Further, the Psychosocial Intervention Unit (PIU) was established at the CSWDO main office to attend to clients who are in need of financial assistance under the Aid to Individual in Crisis Situation. The Unit aims to lessen clients at the unit offices who are focused on the provision of other intensive protective services such as case management, structural development and capacity building to the sectoral groups such as children, youth, women, senior citizens, PWD among others. This strategy has resulted to the consolidation of processes of financial assistance and minimized the transportation expenses of the clients. There was a notable increase of clients served prior to the establishment of PIU in 2020 with 400 clients served. In 2021 when the PIU started, there were 711 served utilizing an amount of PhP 3,200,000.00 from the PhP 2,000,000.00 budget in 2020. In 2022, there were 2,983 clients who were provided with assistance at the PIU utilizing PhP 10,000,000.00 budget for financial assistance.
Baguio CSWDO also ensured the organization of on call social workers and rescue operation to address immediate concerns of vulnerable clients during night time, weekends, and holidays which has facilitated the provision of immediate intervention to address their needs. The filing of the case against their perpetrators is facilitated and prevented the prolonged stay of the clients in the investigation process and possible detention which they are very grateful for. As a result, clients were provided with protective services and reintegrated to their families the soonest their needs were attended. This was made possible as social workers worked with a Multi-disciplinary team composed of representatives from the Baguio City Police Office, City Prosecutors Office, BGHMC and other allied professions for the immediate provision of interventions and referral of clients for protective services. The on-call social worker will turn-over the case to the Unit Social Worker who has the jurisdiction of the family to ensure the provision of intensive psychosocial intervention.
Further, Baguio CSWDO has institutionalized the Rescue Operations for distressed clients such as mendicants and vagrants as one member of the Anti-Mendicancy Task Force. Social workers and allied staff conduct regular rescue operations to ensure that children, women, and other vulnerable sectors were not abused nor neglected in places that are not conducive to them such as bars, clubs, parks and recreational centers.
Baguio CSWDO also initiated other innovations to cater to other sectoral concerns. Among these is the expansion of the Senior Citizen Center which was established in 2006.The functionality of the center located at Salud Mitra has encouraged the different senior citizens in the barangays to lobby for the construction of the barangay Senior Citizens Center at Aurora Hill, Gibraltar, Pinsao Pilot Project, Irisan, Middle Quezon Hill, Lualhati, Sto. Nino, Engineers Hill and Dontogan. Evacuation Centers at Lower Rock Quarry, Bayan Park Aurora Hill, Bakakeng Central and Loakan Apugan, Youth Home located in Barangay Kayang, and Youth Auditorium in Barangay Irisan were also established.. And the City is presently constructing the Halfway House for Former Rebels located in Irisan, Baguio City amounting to PhP 20,000,000.00 and also started the construction of the Youth Convergence Center at the Athletic Bowl amounting to PhP 381,000,000.00.
Aside from these infrastructures, Baguio CSWDO has also institutionalized other activities which promote the rights of the sectors they are catering to. For instance, they were able to implement the Senior Citizen Official for a Day (SCOFAD) every first Monday of October of every year to provide opportunities for inclusion and participation of senior citizens in the governance of the City which was also adopted in the barangay level as Barangay Senior Citizens Official for a Day (BSCOFAD). They are also providing Cash Incentives to Nonagenarians in the city as per City Ordinance No. 84 S 2019 as amended by Ordinance 10 Series of 2022. For students, the Baguio CSWDO was able to implement the Baguio College Educational Financial Assistance Grant to 800 college students amounting to PhP 6,000.00 per semester as per City Ordinance No. 116 Series of 2019 which was initially implemented in 2020 and fully implemented in 2021. The amount of assistance will be increased as per amendment of City Ordinance to PhP 10,000.00 per student for 1,500 students with a total budget of Php 20,000,000.00 for the year 2023.
Baguio CSWDO also ensures that the City’s Child Development Centers are properly managed all 114 CDCs in the City have been accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The Baguio CSWDO transmitted the localized Guidelines on the Implementation of the ECCD in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic to the City Council of Baguio City including the needed budget which was approved on August 24, 2022. The parents/caregivers’ mentoring was conducted by the 114 Child Development Workers. The parents/ guardians submitted weekly mentoring forms signed by them, reflecting their comments, suggestions, and learnings in teaching the module to their child. The Barangay Council for the Protection of Children continues to support the implementation of the day care service that contributes to maintaining the IDEAL Level of Functionality in 2020 and 2021.
For the Supplementary Feeding Program, a three-day delivery schedule was set up to deliver the bulk of goods to the designated ten (10) dropping areas per unit to avoid crowding and easier hauling. The CDWs and parents helped in the distribution and monitoring as well. The bayanihan efforts paid off. The number of undernourished in Baguio City went down from 418 recorded undernourished children to 276.
The Local Government of Baguio also initiated the “Bayanihang Bulilit” before the start of classes. The CDWs along with the BCPC, parents and other stakeholders prepared the CDCs to make it developmentally appropriate and conducive for face–to–face learning. They were also able to conduct an outreach activity in Maoasoas Sur Child Development Center, Pugo La Union and Halog East Child Development Center, Tubao La Union on June 8, 2022,where they crossed the river through “balsa” and rough road ride on a tricycle going to Halog East Barangay to distribute bags, school supplies, personal hygiene materials, snacks for the daycare children and minimal office supplies for the Child Development Worker of Tubao. This outreach created a strong bond and partnership between the communities and the educational institutions.
Other CDWs shared used materials, visual aids, excess books, and other unused materials that can be useful to the other CDC. Purok 14 CDW Ms. Joy Dela Cruz shared her expertise in decorating and proper documentation. Some groups shared how they become outstanding center. For Unit 6 CDWs, they chose less fortunate day care children as beneficiaries of gift-giving like food, and school supplies that brought joy and appreciation to the families.
Lastly, the CDWs Association of Baguio City, the organization of Baguio City Day Care Workers Association Inc. goes above and beyond the commitment of the group to build networks and relationships among themselves, especially in times of need through “Damayan”. The group extends financial aid to members who are in need of medical assistance and death aid to the immediate family of the CDWs whose family members passed away. Also, they gave cash incentives amounting to PhP 5,000.00 to one of their member who retired last September 2021 after 34 years of service as CDW of the City. All of this support are coming from their monthly dues aside from the “pass the hat” or voluntary sharing of financial help for their needy co-CDW.
All these accomplishments of the Baguio CSWDO would not be possible without the strong support of the Local Government Unit of Baguio under the leadership of Mayor Benjamin Magalong. As a form of support, the LGU ensured sufficient funding for CSWDO programs and services. For instance, the Local Council for the Protection of Children (LCPC) of Baguio City increased the budget for 2022 to PhP 16,461,000.00 to provide additional funds of PhP eight (8) million for the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) on top of the requested SFP budget from DSWD and PhP 16,461, 000.00 for the honorarium of the Child Development Workers. Further, there was an increase of budget in the program implementation from PhP 68,233,000.00 in 2020 to PhP 68,282,000.00 in 2021 which resulted to a 76% increase of accomplishment of the CSWDO’s target. This is aside from the funds allotted for the construction of infrastructure projects that were directed to cater to the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged sector.
The LGU has also ensured that appropriate manpower is available to deliver social welfare services in the City. From 78 permanent personnel in 2020, it increased to 85 in 2022. This is aside from the 77 non-permanent positions working under the CSWDO.
Indeed, the strong leadership and dedication of Baguio City LGU combined with the maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo of DSWD has gone a long way, benefitting people and communities, giving them a chance for a better life.
Recognizing the efforts of the LGU, DSWD conferred three (3) awards under the Pagkilala sa Natatanging Kontribusyon sa Bayan (PANATA KO sa Bayan) Gawad Sa Paglilingkod sa Sambayanan (GAPAS) Awards Model LGU for Implementing Protective Programs and Services, Model LGU Implementing Day Care Services, and Best People’s Organization for the KALIPI Women’s Federation of Baguio City. #DSWD FIELD OFFICE CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, NERIZZA FAYE G. VILLANUEVA-TRINIDAD