Two Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) field workers were ambushed by unidentified armed men on December 4, 2012, Monday, as they were on their way to their official station in San Jose de Buan, Samar, wherein they are assigned as community facilitators of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

Renato Dacaymat, 49, and Harvey John Abelido, 24, were riding on their motorcycle, wearing helmets and jackets, when suddenly they heard gunfire and bullet shots towards them. Abelido, who was driving that time, was slightly injured and got a scratch on his left face near his jaw. Dacaymat was not hurt at all.

Reports from the Area Coordinating Team (ACT) Area Coordinator, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) all pointed out to mistaken identity as the cause of the said ambush.

Col. Cerilo Balaoro, Battalion Commander of the 87th Infantry Division, also considers the incident as a provocative act, a test of the “lawless elements” provoking the military troops for a war since there is a newly installed detachment camp near the barangay where the incident happened.

DSWD Regional Director Leticia Diokno said, “We (at the department) strengthened our staff’s security through our partners in the military, the PNP and the local government unit (LGU) themselves.” She added, “In fact, after the incident, the Mayor immediately called a crisis management team meeting to discuss what the intention or the motives were behind the incident”.

The Municipal LGU scheduled a meeting on December 14, 2012 to review and discuss the Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) resolution on their commitment for the safety of DSWD field workers.

“The meeting will involve all the barangay leaders and will tackle what security measures they can give to our staff, otherwise, without such, definitely the instruction of Secretary Dinky Soliman is to pull out from San Jose de Buan”, Diokno mentioned, adding, “We do not want our staff nor the project to be in a disadvantaged situation”.

At present, the 2 field workers are stationed in the municipal office and were advised to take all instructions from there. The Area Coordinator was instructed to facilitate all necessary coordination with the PNP, AFP and the Local Chief Executive (LCE) for safety measures.

The Regional Office will also facilitate immediate procurement of vests with DSWD logo for all field workers of the department, not only for Kalahi-CIDSS, but also Pantawid, and the Sustainable Livelihood.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-driven development (CDD) poverty alleviation project of the government spearheaded by DSWD. It aims to empower the community, improve local governance, and reduce poverty.