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Historical Background

Social Welfare as a basic function of the state was a concept that materialized only after the Second World War, although different groups were undertaking pockets of social work in the first decade of American occupation in the country. After the war, the government gradually assumed the major responsibility for social welfare.

The first government effort in social welfare was the creation of the Public Welfare Board in 1915. A few years later, in 1921, public welfare was broadened to include the actual operation of institutions for special groups such as orphans, the aged, and defective and handicapped individuals. The Board was abolished and an Office of the Public Welfare Commissioner was established in its place. The Office of the Public Welfare Commissioner lasted for more than ten years until the creation of the Bureau of Public Welfare in 1932. This was placed under the Department of Public Instruction alongside the Bureaus of Health and Education. On May 31, 1939 Commonwealth Act No. 430 was enacted, creating the Department of Health and Public Welfare. Two years elapsed before the new department was finally established and then, on July 1,1941, the Bureau of Public Welfare officially became a part of the Department of Health and Public Welfare.

In the first reorganization after the war, the Bureau of Public Welfare was abolished and in its place created the Social Welfare Commission (SWC) in 1947. The Social Welfare Commission (SWC) and the President’s Action Committee on Social Amelioration (PACSA) were merged into the Social Welfare Administration on January 3, 1951 and was tasked to improve the living conditions of Filipinos in dire circumstances, both in the cities and rural areas. The year 1951, marked the beginning of an integrated public welfare program and the creation of one principal entity, the Social Welfare Administration (SWA). The growth of public welfare featured the emergence and establishment of a principal government agency for social welfare. On May 15, 1968, the SWA became a Department thru RA 5416 known as the Social Welfare Act of 1968. The law elevated the then SWA into a department, placing it under the executive branch of government in equal status with other social agencies like health and education.

With the advent of Martial Law in 1972, another historic event came about with the passage of Presidential Decree No. 1, Reorganizing the Executive Branch of the national government. The years 1973 to 1975 were focused on the development of schemes, strategies in resource generation, and efficient social service delivery that would speed up the helping and reaching out processes. In 1976, the name of the Department of Social Welfare was changed by PD No. 994 to the Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD). It gives the department a more accurate institutional identity in keeping with its productivity and developmental thrusts. The transitional stage from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government required a corresponding change in the institutional requirements for governance. For its purpose, PD No. 1397 entitled “Providing for the Conversion of Departments into Ministries and For the Senior Administrative Organization Therefore” was issued in June 1978. Thus, DSSD was converted to the MSSD.

Executive Order 123 issued on January 30, 1987 provided another name change and organizational restructuring. Under this order, the Ministry of Social Services and Development became the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The creation of the Bureau of Women’s Welfare under Section 13 of the EO was considered an inspired and timely move, not only an answer to a burning and relevant issue but more significantly, gave due recognition to women.

Executive Order No. 292 also known as the Revised Administration Code of 1987, which established the current name, organizational structure and functional areas of responsibility further defined the statutory authority of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

With the passage of RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, the Department went through a challenging paradigm shift. As one of the national agencies affected by the Code, DSWD devolved its implementing functions together with its programs and services, direct service workers, budget corresponding to the salary and funds of the staff and programs devolved, assets and liabilities to the local government units. Thus, Executive Order No. 503 entitled “Providing for the rules and regulations implementing the transfer of personnel and assets, liabilities and records of National Government Agencies whose functions are to be devolved to the Local Government Units and for other related purposes, was issued and likewise, Memorandum Order No. 27 was issued by the Department to effect such transfer to LGUs.

After the devolution of basic services to the LGUs, the Department emphasized its steering roles on policy formulation, standard setting, monitoring and technical assistance. It is also an enabler and partner with LGUs, NGOs and POs and other stakeholders in the social welfare and development field. Further, in 1997, Department Order No. 20 was issued to enhance the role of DSWD in steering the social welfare and development (SWD) sector through the adoption of organizational processes and structures. Such will lead to effective and efficient utilization of resources for the delivery of programs and services by the intermediaries and other social welfare and development sector members.

Executive Order No. 15 issued in 1998 entitled “ Redirecting the Functions and Operations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development” , and was amended by Executive Order No. 221, magnified the Department’s role as leader in SWD performing two roles that of steering and rowing.