Monday, January 19, 2015

NOT RUNNING...BUT DEFINITELY, NOT RUNNING AWAY FROM CHALLENGES...

Not Running...But Definitely, Not Running Away from Challenges...

I was able to attend the dialogue initiated by  Secretary Corazon Juliano "Dinky" Soliman with the National Project Management Office [NPMO] of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program last Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at the DSWD Auditorium. I was informed about the dialogue just when it was about to start but I came ahead of the Secretary and was able to stay and complete the event. The dialogue with the Secretary gave me a better perspective of how we are working as a team to support the program, the challenges of improving the team and the service, and our priorities. I was also able to catch Secretary's statement regarding the "running" issue and her "friendly reminder" to the program staff to be kind and respectful to one another. I have here some of the most meaningful parts of the Secretary's discussions together with my own impression, opinion and stand on the issues.

Partner-Beneficiaries

Secretary Dinky emphasized that "the poor families served by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program are our "Partner-Beneficiaries."

Indeed the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries are not passive participants of the program. They have their distinct roles and responsibilities that contribute much to the realization of its objectives. Pregnant mothers avail of regular check-up and children stay in school and get the health services they need. Parents attend monthly family development sessions and apply what they learn in caring for their families. 

Dole-out? - well, this is a common "alias" in lieu of the true essence of the program used by some critics who refuse to understand how the program works to eliminate the intergenerational cycle of poverty. These are the critics who have their own agenda to discredit the program and sow intrigues but are unable to introduce any better alternative to help improve the plight of poor families in the country. The best proof of success are the gains experienced by our partner-beneficiaries. 

"Madalas ang mga may malisyosong komentaryo, wala namang naibibigay na solusyon sa isyu."

Fixing the Gaps, Sustaining the Gains

Amidst the criticisms, the Secretary said that "it is also equally important to highlight the gains of the program that has so far sustained health services to mothers and their children, kept the children in-school, enhanced parenting skills and contributed to the improvement of the level of well-being of our partner-beneficiaries."

The program is not perfect. The information systems are not perfect. Neither are the program implementors, partners and stakeholders. We acknowledge the gaps in the implementation of the program and we are initiating measures and interventions to improve our processes and procedures. We have responded appropriately to the audit observations and recommendations of COA and we will continue improving our policies and procedures to fix the gaps and sustain the gains of the program.

"Ang pagsisilbi sa bayan ay buhay na proseso ng pag tutulungan."

Criticisms Make us Better 

Secretary Dinky stressed that "responding to criticisms  is part of program management."  

Responding to criticisms is a regular feature in the Department's operation. We just need to ensure that we are able to provide the public the right information at the right time. We cannot choose the comments and criticisms we get from the public. We can only choose the way we respond. And the best way to respond to comments and criticisms is to provide the right and complete information to the public, at the time they need it and through the most appropriate and efficient modes of communication.

Being transparent makes your action, intention and response to issues clear to everyone. Wrong information means wrong decision and wrong action.

"Sa serbisyong matindi ang hamon, titiklop ang mga balat-sibuyas at pikon!" 

Reengineering the Business Process, Enhancing the Systems

The Secretary also emphasized the "need to further improve the business processes and systems that support the program to attain efficiency in service delivery."

It will also be necessary for us to ensure that the public understands the business process and systems flow of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. On December 1, 2014, a walk through on the Pantawid business process and systems flow was conducted by the combined team of the National Project Management Office [NPMO] and the Department's ICT Management Service for the state auditors of the Commission on Audit [COA]. The walk through provided the state auditors details of program processes and procedures from the identification of partner-beneficiaries, updates, compliance verification, and release of grants. Next steps include the state auditors' actual observation of the procedures during the the actual generation of compliance verification reports, generation of the notice of approved payroll action [NAPA] and the grants computation.

The Department's National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction [NHTSPR] provides the data on poor households identified through the administration of the Proxy Means Test [PMT]. An Eligibility Check Routine [ECR] is then administered to choose the eligible households and establish the list of potential partner-beneficiaries. List of potential partner-beneficiaries are posted and a community assembly registration is conducted. Subsequently, updates on the profile of partner-beneficiaries are fed into the systems as they are collected and verified by community-based workers. Compliance verification are generated as basis for the notice of approved payroll action which serves as the basis of computing the grants of partner-beneficiaries.

Enhancement of the policies, business processes and systems are part of the updates that are provided to the Department's workers, partners and stakeholders.

"Ang maayos na serbisyo ay instrumento ng pag-babago. Ang mga sistema at teknolohiya ay katuwang sa pag-asenso."

Information Management is Key

Secretary Dinky announced that "the Department is coming up with an Information Management Bureau."

I am part of the ICTMS team that provides technical assistance and support service to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program National Project Management Office [NPMO]. We know very well that information management is critical to the success of our operations. Collecting and securing data, processing and transforming them into information are key processes for effective information management and communication.

Inline with this principle, the Secretary announced the creation of the Information Management Bureau [IMB] which will be composed of the Department's Information and Communications Technology Management Service [ICTMS] and the National Household Targeting Office [NHTO]. The ICTMS provides technical services along ICT policy development and enforcement, systems development, infrastructure management, security, service delivery and support. On the other hand the NHTO manages the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction [NHTSPR] which is now aptly called as "Listahanan."

To further enhance information management in the Department, the two offices shall merge to form the IMB. The merger will also pave the way for the consolidation of all IT staff of the agency to establish the enterprise information management strategy. The establishment of the IMB is also expected to trigger the meaningful transformation of the ICT teams at the DSWD Field Offices into Regional Information Management Units [RIMU] composed of the Regional counterparts of the ICTMS, NHTO and the Pantawid Pamilya IT Officers.

This is a significant change that has long been anticipated by most of us. It opens the opportunity for the Department to unify the ICT service management functions and work teams, build the enterprise information management system and respond meaningfully to the challenges of the service. 

"Ang tamang impormasyon ay nagbubunga ng angkop na desisyon at aksyon."

Kindness and Respect 

Secretary Dinky provided a friendly reminder to the program staff to "maintain kindness and  respect to one another." The Secretary expressed her concern about the tedious work being performed by the program staff to serve partner-beneficiaries. "Though we have very tight work schedules and some things don't work as planned, we have no reason to be unkind to each other. We can always find solutions to issues by working together," she added.

Unknown to others and probably to most of our critics, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program follows a firm process implemented by the workers at the community level, the provincial and Regional levels and the Central Office of the Department. Identifying eligible households, conducting community assemblies and registration procedures, updating the profiles of partner-beneficiaries, conducting family development sessions, verifying compliance, processing cash grants, monitoring field operations, resolving grievances, processing and protecting the integrity of data, and maintaining the infrastructure and support services, are just some of the critical procedures of the program being implemented and managed by the program staff and support teams. These processes are initiated within a very tight timeline to ensure that partner-beneficiaries get the quality service they deserve. Given this very firm processes in a very tight timeline, everyone should really be kind and respectful to one another. 

"Ang trabaho'y gumagaan, kung may respeto sa samahan."

Not Running... But Definitely, Not Running Away from Challenges...

The first time I was asked if Secretary Dinky is running for an elective position in the 2016 elections, my answer was "I really don't know." But after responding to the question, my mind was pre-occupied by thoughts about the possible implications, if indeed she runs for an elective position. 

The main issue I had in mind then was that all of the Department's effort to help and serve the poor will come to naught if the Secretary decides to run for an elective position in 2016. I believe that if she runs for any elective position in 2016, it would be easy for the critics and the public to conclude that the CCT was used to establish the foundation for her candidacy.  That is how politics work in the Philippines. There is no doubt about it. But on the other hand, I know that we needed to listen to the DSWD Secretary about this. Her response would always be better than what others may have in mind about her intentions.

Referring to the "running" question, Secretary Dinky said "I am not running for any elective position in the 2016 national elections." The Secretary said that the only "running" she may do is at the UP Diliman, for health and fitness. A program staff asked, "What if the President insists that you run?" The Secretary responded "he will not, because the President understands and respects my stand about the issue."

Finally, we have the firm response to the "running" issue. Secretary Dinky is not running for any elective position in 2016, but Secretary Dinky is not running away from challenges. Yes, it is always necessary to be "mahusay at magiliw" but more than these, we should always be "matapat at matatag sa pag lilingkod."

"Ang pagsisilbi sa bayan ay sagrado. Tuloy ang Pag-babago at Pag-Asenso!"