Fifteen Years of Decentralization: the Dswd Experience Essay

The Local Government Code of the Philippines was enacted in 1991 to address the problems associated with a highly centralized Philippine bureaucracy. It was enacted to by the state to ensure the autonomy of local governments as contained in the Philippine constitution. One of the major features of the Code was the transfer of the responsibility for the delivery of basic services, including appropriate personnel, assets, equipment, programs, and projects, to the local government units.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was one of national government agencies that were devolved almost immediately after the enactment of the Code. Fifteen years after devolution, the DSWD continues to identify and resolve the institutional and financial challenges that it faces to fulfill its mandate under a devolved set-up. This tackles on the devolution process that the Department went through in the past fifteen years and the issues and challenges that it continues to face.The Philippine bureaucracy was highly centralized prior to the Code.

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The DSWD was formerly called the Social Welfare Administration, which was under the Office of the President. This highly centralized unit of government attended to the social welfare needs of the country. In 1968, the SWA became a department, called the Department of Social Welfare, under former President Ferdinand Marcos. When the country shifted to parliamentarism in 1978, it became the Ministry of Social Services and Development.In1987, the office was re-named the Department of Social Welfare and Development under former President Corazon Aquino. The DSWD’s role in its early years under postwar Philippines focused on the provision of social welfare services to those who were considered as destitute, the unfortunate victims of calamities and dissidence, and others who are unable to fend for themselves or to be taken care of by relatives and friends.The Local Government Code mandated the transfer of the following social services to the Local Government Units (LGUs): At the barangay level, these services include the maintenance of daycare centers. At the municipal and city levels, these include children and youth, elderly and disabled persons welfare projects and programs; community based rehabilitation programs, family planning and nutrition programs, livelihood projects for the poor and women projects and programs.

At the provincial level, these include programs and projects on rebel returnees and evacuees, disaster and relief operations and population development. However, by a legislative mandate the DSWD continues to implement national programs and projects funded through its own budget or from external sources. These are the Self Employment Assistance- Kaunlaran Project (SEA-K), Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS), Productivity Skills Capacity Building for Disadvantaged Women and the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD).

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