The President’s Men and Women: Dinky happy to be back in DSWD
By Helen Flores
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said she is happy to return to work in “one of the most committed bureaucracies” and vowed to further improve the government’s existing poverty alleviation programs.
Soliman said she received a warm welcome from officials and staff of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when she took control of the agency once again last July 1.
Soliman served as DSWD secretary under the Arroyo administration.
But in 2005, she and nine other Cabinet and senior officials, known as the “Hyatt 10,” called on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign after she apologized and admitted it was improper for her to have called an election commissioner linked to poll fraud in the 2004 presidential elections.
“I really feel very encouraged… sunflowers were all over the place. I could feel the warmth of their embrace, very welcoming and they were all glad to see me again,” Soliman said.
Soliman said sunflowers are her favorite flowers.
“I work with one of the most committed bureaucracies that have very little, if at all, scandal on graft and corruption. The people here work 24/7,” she said.
Soliman said she accepted the post from President Aquino despite all the criticisms against her because she wants to be part of the “transformation process.”
“I accepted it because first of all, all my life since I started being engaged as a social worker, I always had the motivation and the passion to be part of a transformation process of the Philippines,” she said.
“I chose to continue the commitment of being part of a transformation process by accepting the challenge of working again with the department whose main mandate is to work with the poorest of the poor,” she added.
“I believe in the President. I believe President Noynoy will truly be able to make major changes in our culture, politics and economy. I believe in his integrity and leadership and he has given me the privilege to be part of the change that is going to happen,” Soliman said.
Soliman graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 1973.
She finished her Masters in Public Administration at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1998.
She was born on Jan. 27, 1953 and is married to Hector Soliman. They have two children, Sandino and Marikit.
One of the priority programs of the new government is the provision of sustainable livelihood to poor Filipino families, Soliman said.
These livelihood projects will complement the existing poverty alleviation programs in the country such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).
“To ensure that communities we have assisted move out of poverty, they need to have assistance in getting sustainable livelihood. That is the first priority,” Soliman told The STAR.
Soliman said they plan to involve families in the poorest provinces in product development programs.
“We are looking at product development, specifically food, and link them to the market,” she said.
She said they are likely to enter into partnerships with the private sector in these undertakings.
Soliman said she has also called for the review of the National Household Targeting System to make sure that the right beneficiaries will get support from the government.
The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction, which was implemented last year, was aimed at establishing a database of households classified according to poverty level.
The system intends to rationalize the allocation of government resources to those who are most deserving of assistance.
No more street children
The DSWD chief also plans to rid the Philippines of street children by 2011.
Soliman said the DSWD, along with local government units and the private sector, will focus on developing more shelters, which she feels is the best way to handle street children.
“We will be working with the LGUs and the private sector to help us in this, particularly those in the housing sector, because street families really need a place to stay, that’s why they are in the streets,” Soliman said.
“I want to be able to eliminate (street children) in a year’s time. When I say to eliminate I mean that there is no child in the street begging,” she said.
Soliman said street children are often involved in road accidents and human trafficking.