CHONA Inoc, 42, and her husband Brandred, 43, rely on farming to provide for their five young children.
When super typhoon Yolanda tore through northern Cebu, their crops in Barangay Poblacion, Daanbantayan were wiped out. They were left homeless. Their life was in shambles.
As aid from the government, international organizations and civilians began to trickle in, they started rebuilding their house. Their prospects improved after they were chosen as beneficiaries of the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
For 15 days, the couple cleaned streets and clogged canals and cut the grass in the market and the bus terminal in Daanbantayan.
Chona started working at 6 a.m. and went home before 12 p.m. to prepare lunch for her family. In the afternoon, her husband Brandred covered for her until 4 p.m.
With a salary of P300 per day, they got P4,500 from the program, which they used to buy seeds and fertilizers for their farm, which they revived.
A year after the disaster, Chona said they were able to harvest sacks of peanuts that were sold for P9,000. This is just the beginning of how their family recovered after Yolanda.
“Nakatabang gyud kaayo siya pero dili sad dapat nga magsalig lang ta sa gobyerno. Dapat maningkamot pud ta og ato (It helped us but it also doesn’t mean that we would just rely on the government. We also have to strive on our own),” she told Sun.Star Cebu.
The Inoc family is one of 502 families in northern Cebu that were assisted by DSWD through its Recovery and Rehabilitation Program (RRP), which targets 125,691 families.
The RRP for northern Cebu has a total funding of P303.7 million. But a year after Yolanda, only P1.7 million has been released to DSWD 7.
Shalaine Marie Lucero, DSWD 7 assistant director, said that their agency has implemented two cash-for-work programs for affected residents.
The first is the RRP, which is aimed to reconstruct and rehabilitate affected communities by paying affected residents to do the work.
Registered beneficiaries of the RRP will be given P327 per day for 10 days if their house was destroyed and five days for those whose house was damaged.
The RRP is aimed to provide emergency employment to 125,691 families in the affected towns.
The second cash-for-work program is the Cash for Building Livelihood Assets (CBLA), which is aimed to empower typhoon victims to revive their livelihood.
Some P47.8 million has been paid to 10,908 beneficiaries from the towns of Tudela, Tabuelan, Sta. Fe, San Remegio, Poro, Bantayan, Madridejos, Medellin, Sogod, Pilar, Tuburan, Daanbantayan and San Francisco.
About 15 other LGUs that were ravaged by Yolanda have yet to receive the aid as DSWD is still waiting for the Special Allotment Release Order for the remaining P302 million.
As for the CBLA, about P47.8 million was already given to registered beneficiaries in 13 LGUs.
Despite the lack of funds, DSWD 7 officials said that their cash-for-work program succeeded in terms of promoting self-sustainability for typhoon survivors.
Lucero said the cash-for-work program did not only give livelihood to affected residents, it also helped speed up the repair and rehabilitation work in the affected LGUs.
“Nakatabang sad siya sa pag-promote sa bayanihan spirit sa kada kalungsuran (The program also promoted the bayanihan spirit in every affected town),” Lucero added.
But implementing the programs was not easy all the time, she added, as there were challenges in several stages of the program, including monitoring each of the beneficiaries to ensure that they did their part.
Lucero said that they have tasked the social welfare officers of the LGUs to continuously monitor their beneficiaries and to document their progress, since it’s also the LGUs that helped select the program’s beneficiaries.
Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro said he saw how the lives of some of his constituents improved after Yolanda through DSWD’s emergency employment, and how it helped families cope with their loss.
Some families in the towns in Bantayan Island, the worst-hit towns in Cebu, also benefited from emergency employment initiated by DSWD and non-government organizations (NGOs).
In Bantayan town, local officials observed that while some families had used their earnings from the cash-for-work program to rebuild their properties, others only wasted it on gambling.
This prompted Mayor Ian Christopher Escario to ban all forms of gambling in the town from November last year to March this year, particularly cockfighting, so the people can focus their time and money in rebuilding their homes.
“The program helped the people but it really depends on how the beneficiaries used the money. For some, it did not help kay ang uban gud makadawat og kwarta dili man gastohon sa pamilya ug pag-rehabilitate or for rebuilding. Mo-sugal man hinuon so gi-ban namo tanan klase sa sugal,” Escario said.
The ban on gambling was lifted last March, but Escario said they still limit the holding of cockfights only in cockpits or during the fiesta celebration.
According to the data provided by the livelihood cluster of the Municipality of Bantayan, at least 1,260 families benefited from DSWD’s cash-for-work program.
DSWD also poured P5 million in Madridejos town for the cash-for-work of constituents, who were asked to clear the roads for 15 days.
Mayor Salvador Dela Fuente said the beneficiaries used their income to put up a small sari-sari store and repair their houses.
Oxfam International, an NGO, also implemented cash-for-work and a boat repair program in Madridejos and Sta. Fe.
Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana said that Oxfam paid the beneficiaries P300 per day for 15 days to clear the roads, while the United Nations Development Programme and DSWD gave residents P282 per day for similar tasks.
“Such programs helped our constituents a lot, especially those who took out loans for the repair of their houses or to revive their livelihood,” Esgana said.
For his part, Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez said there have been instances when the cash-for-work program didn’t work.
He cited the project of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, where the beneficiaries were reportedly dependents of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Don’t you know that in a rural setting, ang mga OFWs maoy mga dato unya gitan-aw sa tanan? Do you expect his wife or children to work in the street?” Ramirez said.
The mayor said they don’t know what kind of work the families are willing to accept, that’s why they opt to just dole out the money.