BUTUAN CITY – The past few days have been a whirlwind of a ride, most especially for the people in Mindanao. A series of events has caused President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the islands of Mindanao. With this development, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Caraga had to take necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety of not just the FO workers, but also the general public.

With the uncertainties brought about by the current situation not just in Marawi City, but in the whole of Mindanao (including Caraga), the management was quick in making crucial, yet appropriate decisions to address the situation. One of these was to recall all regional office – based workers to ensure their safety. Sadly, the recall caused the cancelation of already scheduled activities.

There were several activities scheduled for the week (May 22- 26, 2017) including the conduct of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) payout for the different families in Surigao City who have been affected by the February 10, 2017 earthquake. These were the families who were not accommodated during the first batch of payout on May 10-11, 2017 intended for the households whose houses were partially damaged. The management, through OIC – Regional Director Mita Chuchi Gupana-Lim instructed everyone in the regional office to cancel the payout at the last minute.

“It is very risky for our workers who are carrying large amounts of money to conduct the payout. Since people (beneficiaries) will congregate for the payout, they will also be put at risk. We still do not have a clear picture of what is really happening, and what the effects of the declaration of martial law would be. There might be threats to our safety. This is why we are cancelling the payout for another date once everything is stable. This is for the good and safety of everyone,” Lim said.

As much as the agency would like to be able to deliver swift response to the needs of the people of Caraga, there are instances where the safety and welfare of the people are top priority. The agency assures beneficiaries of the ESA that payout would be scheduled once the peace and order situation is stabilized.