MANILA –Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo on Sunday disproved a Philippine Daily Inquirer report citing that tens of thousands of President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters who gathered in Rizal Park were forced to attend the rally because their attendance was a prerequisite to the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps).
“If the implication is that the DSWD forced the beneficiaries of the 4Ps program to attend the rally in support of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte yesterday (Saturday), we categorically deny it,” said Taguiwalo.
Taguiwalo also reiterated that under her watch and upon instructions from the President, DSWD programs will never be used to campaign for or against any political agenda.
She said that beneficiaries of the program are free to choose their political leanings and that this will not affect their status as beneficiaries of the agency’s programs.
She further assured that DSWD will never resort to the point of blackmailing the beneficiaries of 4Ps or any other DSWD program and force them to attend or boycott any political activity.
Taguiwalo said they will also investigate if there have been DSWD officials or staff who told beneficiaries that their 4Ps benefits will be withheld if they do not attend a pro-Duterte activity.
“We will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Government services should never be utilized to benefit any political agenda; they should be used only to help the poor and assist them in their time of need. If you need to force people, buy their loyalty or force them to give support for any agenda, then that same agenda is not really deserving of public support,” she said.