CATEEL, Davao Oriental — Over 160 farmers in this town, five hours away from the provincial capital of Mati, are the newest participants of the Social Security System (SSS) AlkanSSSya Program as part of ongoing initiatives to help residents recover from Typhoon Pablo that hit Mindanao in 2012.

Emmanuel Palma, SSS Assistant Vice President for Southern Mindanao Division, said 167 out of the 244 farmer-members of the Community Forestry Project-Taytayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CFP-TMPC) comprised the first-ever batch of AlkanSSSya participants in the eastern coast of Davao Oriental.

“The CFP-TMPC members are farmer-beneficiaries of the cash-for-work program supported by the International Labor Organization (ILO) after the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo two years ago. While re-establishing the farmers’ source of livelihood is important in helping them bounce back from the disaster, ensuring their social protection through the SSS is also a top priority for their full recovery,” Palma said.

Typhoon Pablo rampaged through southern Philippines in December 2012, triggering floods and landslides that flattened the hardest-hit areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley and depriving residents of their homes and livelihood.

The SSS, through its Mati branch headed by Officer-in-Charge Branch Head Erec Rana, teamed up with the ILO and CFP-TMPC for the landmark AlkanSSSya launch in Cateel, which is seen to attract other beneficiary groups assisted by the ILO in nearby areas into joining the SSS microsavings program.

The AlkanSSSya launch served as highlight of the 5th CFP-TMPC anniversary celebration held at the Mantunao Eco Park in Taytayan, Cateel on May 5. Attendees included SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr., CFP-TMPC Chairman Mahlon Pejana, CFP-TMPC General Manager Esther Albino and ILO Project Coordinator Jedel Ervin Tabamo.

Also present were SSS Special Assistant to the PCEO Ma. Lourdes Mendoza, SSS Senior Vice President for Visayas and Mindanao Operations Eddie Jara, SSS Vice President for Management Services and Planning May Ciriaco, AlkanSSSya Program Director Amalia Tolentino, SSS Branch Evaluation Services Department Head Gloria Cuisia and Enterprise Bank-Cateel Branch Head Marvin Barrios.

Instead of coins, coupons specifying the amount saved and the control number will be stored in the AlkanSSSya unit, which is a large “piggy bank” with secured individual boxes for keeping members’ savings. The cash will be kept by the cooperative’s treasurer and remitted to SSS via a collecting agent (Enterprise Bank) at the end of each month.

“The AlkanSSSya makes saving for monthly contributions affordable as well as convenient, since CFP-TMPC will handle the collection, monitoring and remittance of SSS payments on behalf of its members,” Palma explained.

“CFP-TMPC will also offer a unique program called the ‘Saturday and Sunday work for Security’ or ‘SSS,’ wherein it will provide its members jobs during weekends. The earnings will be used to augment their SSS savings, making the AlkanSSSya program more sustainable and viable,” he added.

SSS will also offer mobile data capture services at the Cateel Municipal Hall this month to help locals apply for the Unified Multi-Purpose Identification System (UMID) card without having to travel 160 kilometers to the SSS Mati Branch. One-way trip to Mati costs more than P200 and takes up to five hours by bus.