THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Office said the local government of Kapalong, Davao del Norte harassed its team during a one-stop shop (OSS) activity that was supposed to be conducted last August 30.
In a press release from the DSWD central office, DSWD said the team led by Assistant Secretary (Asec) Aleli Bawagan was refused by the Kapalong municipal administrator to enter Barangay Gupitan as the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) accused them that they had with them a member of Pasaka, a non-government organization, an accusation the DSWD team denied.
Bawagan said she explained the OSS composition and objectives as part of the Comprehensive Program on Relief and Early Recovery of Lumad Communities in Mindanao in front of the IPMR and municipality administrators to clearly state their objective in doing the OSS.
She, however, said Kapalong Mayor Edgardo Timbol told the team that he is still against the proceeding and prohibited them from going.
“It is most disappointing that LGU officials are hindering the DSWD’s efforts to help impoverished Filipinos in isolated communities which are under their jurisdiction," Bawagan said.
The DSWD team also received threats from the paramilitary group Bagani, who were staying in Barangay Gupitan at that time, for insisting to enter the barangay.
“Our negotiations with the LGU officials continued until we all reached a consensus that we would send an advance party to the community so the IPMR can tell members of the paramilitary group Bagani of our planned arrival at 5 a.m. the following day — which is today, August 31. Came early evening yesterday at 6:30 p.m., however, the IPMR went to us to the small lodging house where we were staying to tell us that the paramilitary group Bagani refuses to allow us into the area," Bawagan said.
"The Bagani also warned us that if we insisted, there would be killing. ‘Sasampulandaw kami.’ Kapalong Mayor Timbol has also told local DSWD personnel that she is against us proceeding and has practically prohibited the staff from going," Bawagan added.
DSWD-Davao Region Public Information Officer Carmela Duron, in an interview, said based on the information they gathered, there was no harassment that happened but only refusal to enter as the place is not safe.
Bawagan and her DSWD team continuously assert their right to proceed with the OSS as a national government agency. Negotiation with the Philippine National Police is also being conducted to accompany them to the areas where the OSS is intended to be held.