Duterte institutionalizes system to harmonize humanitarian aid

Philippine News AgencyMay 25, 2021

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) which mandates immediate and harmonized humanitarian assistance and operations during disasters and emergencies to ensure “faster and more reliable delivery of social protection programs and services of the government.”

Under EO 137 inked on May 24, Duterte stressed that the government’s duty is to give an “effective, integrated, and fiscally responsible aid and humanitarian support to the Filipino people in times of emergency and during disaster as a critical component of recovery and rebuilding efforts.”

“The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures and heavy rainfalls, which account for significant losses, both tangible and intangible,” the order read.

The EO said the “Aid and Humanitarian Operations Nationwide” (AHON) Convergence Program is institutionalized as a platform for an enhanced and unified delivery of social amelioration services.

AHON’s component programs, according to EO 137, include food and non-food relief items; livelihood assistance and interventions; educational assistance; burial assistance; transportation assistance; employment assistance; medical and health assistance; direct financial assistance; and infrastructures for preparedness and rehabilitation phase.

“The concerned implementing agency shall be responsible for the full implementation of its programs, and shall promulgate rules on the qualifications of beneficiaries which shall not be unduly burdensome and shall be kept at the barest minimum to ensure accessibility and wider coverage,” order said.

The EO also creates the AHON Committee chaired by the Office of the Special Assistant to the President and vice chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Members of the committee include the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The member-agencies are directed to designate their permanent representatives to the committee which shall have the rank not lower than an Undersecretary or its equivalent.

The committee is mandated to ensure the efficient and coordinated provision of immediate, adequate, and appropriate humanitarian aid; harmonize the types of suitable assistance; call for necessary government support; and craft guidelines for the implementation of EO 137.

AHON committee, through DICT and in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority, should establish and maintain a unified Convergence Information System (CIS) containing a database of verified individuals, families, communities, cities, municipalities, and provinces identified as beneficiaries of the program.

“The CIS shall be kept up-to-date by the agency members of the Committee and shall be available to all national government agencies and the public,” according to the order.

The funding requirement for the implementation of the EO will be charged against existing appropriations of implementing agencies and from other sources to be identified by the Budget department, subject to the availability of funds, and budgeting, and accounting and auditing laws and regulations.

Funding requirements for succeeding years will be included in the respective budget proposals of the AHON committee member-agencies.

The committee is also tasked to submit an annual report on the implementation of EO to the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary.

The military and the police are directed to assist the committee in the delivery of humanitarian support.

All state departments, bureaus, and offices, as well as local government units, are encouraged to support and cooperate with the committee.

EO 137, which was made public on Tuesday, takes effect immediately.(PNA)

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