President Rodrigo Duterte (PNA file photo)
KORONADAL CITY -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte distributed here Tuesday night some PHP13.2-million worth of livelihood grants and financial assistance to poor families from parts of South Cotabato province.
The President personally handed over the assistance to beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) anti-poverty programs in a ceremony held at the South Cotabato Provincial Capitol covered court.
Some 38 community organizations composed of about 1,000 poor families received checks for livelihood grants under the DSWD's Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) while 300 other poor households got their cash subsidies under the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program.
Duterte, who was also here for the grand campaign rally of senatorial candidates under the administration-backed Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), urged the beneficiaries to use the grants properly, stressing that these were intended to make their lives better.
"Let us be clear. These were not given to you so you can buy liquor, get into gambling, and buy drugs. We will not understand each other with that," he said.
"When you get home, give some to your children and buy them good food. Then use the rest for your daily needs," the President added.
The event was also attended by Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Affairs and Muslim Concerns Abdullah Mamao, South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, and other national and regional officials of the DSWD.
Bai Zorahayda Taha, DSWD 12 (Soccsksargen) director, said the SLP beneficiaries received grants of between PHP300,000 and PHP450,000 as seed fund for their approved business enterprises.
She said these include rice retailing, flower production, chicken egg production, cattle-raising, poultry production, bakery, and dressmaking.
Each beneficiary group consists of 20 to 30 members, who are recipients of the national government's Conditional Cash Transfer program for the "poorest of the poor" households, she said.
Under the program, each individual member of the SLP group may avail of as much as PHP15,000 in livelihood grant.
For the UCT subsidy, Taha said the beneficiaries were from Barangays Poblacion, Lopez Jaena, and BS Aquino in Norala town.
The 300 households, who received PHP2,400 each, were chosen as representatives for the event of the UCT recipients in South Cotabato.
The subsidy program was launched by the national government to help poor households cope with the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law
Emma Sorsano, president of an SLP association based in Lake Sebu town, expressed gratitude to the government for giving them the chance to eventually get out of poverty through their hog fattening project.
"We will do our best to grow and sustain this for our families and communities in Lake Sebu. It's hard to earn money but it is harder to see our families starve and we can't do anything about it," she said.
Fuentes lauded the DSWD for including the province's poor households as among the priorities of its assistance programs.
She thanked the President for making sure that these grants are delivered properly to the beneficiaries.
"On behalf of the people of South Cotabato, especially the beneficiaries, thank you sir, for giving time to visit our people," she said.