PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an order to accelerate and harmonize the national government’s humanitarian response and social service operations during disasters and emergencies.

Under Executive Order No. 137, signed on May 24, the President institutionalized the so-called Aid and Humanitarian Operations Nationwide (AHON) Convergence Program, a platform “for an enhanced and unified delivery of social amelioration services.”

The order also creates the AHON Committee, to be chaired by the Office of the Special Assistant to the President and co-chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Its composition includes representatives from the following departments: Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Health, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Labor and Employment. It also includes the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

“Nothing in this order shall be construed to prevent any national government agency or LGU (local government unit) from affording assistance and taking such other action in the event of any emergency or disaster prior to the inclusion of such intervention to the AHON Convergence Program,” the order read.

The order also mandates the National Economic and Development Authority and the ICT department to establish and maintain a unified Convergence Information System, which shall contain “a database of verified individuals, families, communities, cities, municipalities, and provinces who have benefitted from the AHON Convergence Program subject to the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012.”

The system shall utilize geotagging tools and other appropriate technologies recommended by the Department of ICT, it said.

“All departments, bureaus, agencies, offices, and LGUs, including government-owned or controlled corporations, as well as government financial institutions, and state universities and colleges, are encouraged to render full support and cooperation to the Committee in carrying out its mandate.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza