Cagayan de Oro City — The Civil Service Commission (CSC) recently conferred the 2016 Outstanding Public Officials and Employees (Dangal ng Bayan) Award to Sonia Ipang, Social Welfare Officer III of DSWD Field Office 10 and the head of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) in Gingoog City, in a ceremony held in Heroes Hall of Malacanang.

Hero of Northern Mindanao. Sonia E. Ipang (second from right), Social Wefare Officer III and head of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth of DSWD Field Office 10 is this year’s recipient of Civil Service Commission Outstanding Public Official and Employee (Dangal ng Bayan) Award.. Also on photo (from left): DSWD Field Office 10 Assistant Regional Director for Administration Manuel M. Borres, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Sonia’s husband Erleen. (DSWD Photo)

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, CSC Chair Alice Bala, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales bestowed the award to Ipang. She also received the gold gilded trophy and P200,000 cash from the Central Bank of the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte, CSC Chair Alice Bala, and Ombudsman Carpio- Morales present the award in a ceremony at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang. (RTVM Photo)

As an awardee, Ipang will be automatically promoted to a one step higher rank as per provision under the Republic Act 6713, an act establishing a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, to uphold the time-honored principle of public office being a public trust, granting incentives and rewards for exemplary service, enumerating prohibited acts and transactions and providing penalities for violation thereof and for other purposes.

The Dangal ng Bayan Award is conferred by the CSC to an individual for performance of extraordinary act or public service and consistent demonstration of exemplary ethical behavior on the basis of his/her observance of the eight norms of behavior provided for under RA 6713: commitment to public interest, professionalism, justness and sincerity, political neutrality, responsiveness to the public, nationalism and patriotism, commitment to democracy, and simple living.

DSWD Field Office 10 Regional Director, Nestor B. Ramos, said the recognition of Ipang serves as an inspiration to all workers of DSWD in Northern Mindanao.

“She is the pride of DSWD and Northern Mindanao. I hope workers will emulate her great dedication and commitment to our agency, clientele, and country,” said Ramos.

Ipang received the award for her passion and diligence in taking care of the children in conflict with the law (CICL). Under her watch, the RRCY in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental taught residents to become more responsible through engagement in livelihood opportunities such as crafts making and backyard farming, and activities such as sports fests and educational trips.

Compassion, care, and dignity

Child protection is an important part of the work of a staff of the RRCY. That is why implementing child protection programs are now strictly observed inside the center. With this, Miss Ipang, as a social worker, ensured that vulnerable children are protected, to the best of her ability, wherever they are.

Free from discrimination, she treated the CICLs with compassion, care, dignity, and understanding who are undergoing rehabilitation inside the DSWD-run center.

To address issues and concerns RRCY were facing, Ipang implemented some programs at the center and made it to a point to all her colleagues that they are working as a team. She advocates for improved laws, policies, and systems in the center to realize and achieve the goal of RRCY which is the rehabilitation of clients.

This happened when Ipang was sent to a training in Cebu on Therapeutic Community. She applied her learnings from the training and re-echoed all her learnings to her co-workers through an orientation. This paved the way for the implementation of programs and services at the center which involved both staff and clients. Such implementation is geared towards improving and changing the atmosphere of the center and the rehabilitation efforts as well.

She amplified the implementation with the several learnings from trainings she attended relative to handling difficult behavior of the CICLs. This resulted in the gradual improvement of the behavior of the children clients inside the center. Each client embraced the changes, thereby making them believers of peace, love, and understanding. There are no more reported conflicts among clients within the center.

The continuous pursuit of excellent performance is Ipang’s mantra in serving the clients at the center. As it is, she was promoted as center head in 2004 and assumed office in 2005. Her first month was quite difficult.

As a newly-hired center head, for a while, she performed two functions: a center head and a case manager/social worker since the social worker position was vacant at that time and filling up the position was still on screening process. Her multi-tasking performance declined when DSWD hired another social worker in 2007.

With her expertise, all problems and difficult situations arising and encountered by the staff and by the center were addressed. Change has come, from being unattractive, offensive, and dilapidated buildings of the center to becoming a Center of Excellence after passing and maintaining the accreditation of the Standards Bureau of DSWD. As Level III accredited center, RRCY has become a world standard in providing rehabilitation to CICLs.

The Protective Services Unit of DSWD which directs and manages center heads are well aware of the personal contributions of Ipang in making the center free from children’s conflicts, vandalism, and vices among CICLs.

Rosemarie Conde, PSU head, disclosed that Ipang would immediately find solutions and resolve complex problems, a rare and enviable ability in center heads now.

“She always innovates and closely work with her colleagues, inspiring and encouraging them to work as a team. She has greatly contributed to the development of the center and the total rehabilitation of the children as a center head and as a mother to all in the center,” added Conde.

The mother image resonates throughout the center that resulted in more productive and valuable clients. One of the examples is the client Rustie Quintana. Quintana, after undergoing formation and rehabilitation at the center was awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Youth of the Philippines. No less than the former President Benigno S. Aquino III handed the award to Mr. Quintana.

Committed and dedicated

For the last three years, there have been significant transformations of RRCY under the leadership of Ipang. Her hardwork and perseverance in running the center of DSWD has been enormous that DSWD officials, through former Regional Director Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo and current RD Nestor Briones Ramos, exerted and all out support to the programs and services implemented at RRCY.

From the dilapidated building to new and more buildings, Ipang commits to giving excellent service to the clients. She also repaired and renovated some RRCY facilities and amenities to pave the way for a conducive rehabilitation center for CICLs. This include the construction of as new building which now serves as the administration building of the center, making the homelife area safe and spacious for the residents to live in,  completing the guest house.

The extension area of the administration building now serves as the venue for learning like the conduct of skills training, lectures, meetings, and many other purposes.

Based on PSU’s observation, RRCY has tremendously evolved from a mere stop-over of CICLs to a world class rehabilitation center. Ipang has contributed  to the over- all impact of the center’s  operation and achievement as Level III accredited center.

Resource Generation

Ipang mobilized resources for the completion of the second floor of the administration building. The Department of Public Works and Highways based in Gingoog City pledged for its construction and completion of a building, involving the total amount of P2 million. She has inked a memorandum of understanding for its completion.

In addition, DSWD hired good and competent staff assigned at the center that complements Ipang’s quest for transformation of the center and processing the lives of the residents. They comprise the team in providing wholistic approach to the residents.

They still use and apply the therapeutic community and milleu therapy as part of the approaches of the staff in dealing the multi-faceted problems of the residents. These approaches have contributed to the zero to two percent performance as far as abscondence of wards is concerned. Abscondence is an act of clients of the center leaving without permission. This is a clear indication that residents have been enjoying the quality of care bestowed upon them by the staff, thereby making them comfortable, safe, and secured.

Recognition and commendation

RRCY under Ipang’s received commendations from DSWD Central Office for attaining the highest standard of accreditation, the Level Three (3) or as a center of excellence. The said accreditation was made in December 2015.

The commitment for excellent service to the clients never ends with the recognition and honor received. Ipang and the rest of the staff maintained the level of excellence. In November 2016, The Standards Bureau of DSWD monitored and assessed the recent operation of RRCY and it found out that the center has maintained it world class quality of service and programs to the clients.

“The strong leadership of Ipang is evident and this could be attributed to her over-all performance as the center manager, garnering an outstanding performance over and above other centers/ facilities run and managed by DSWD Field Office 10,” said Assistant Regional Director for Administration, Manuel M. Borres.

Borres added that RRCY-10 stands as one of the most  prestigious centers in the Philippines, a facility which can be called a social laboratory where private organizations, non-governmental organizations and government organizations will look upon for possible replication.

Moreover, case management process and records keeping are well-organized and monitored. The intervention program of each resident is based on their psycho-social needs thereby rehabilitation of CICLs admitted in the facility.