Local gov’t officials abusing emergency subsidies to face sanctions – DSWD

Michelle Abad
Local gov’t officials abusing emergency subsidies to face sanctions – DSWD
The Department of Social Welfare and Development discloses reports of local government officials selling social amelioration cards when these are free

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Monday, April 6, that any local government official caught abusing social amelioration program (SAP) funds will face sanctions accordingly “once the [coronavirus] crisis is over.”

Justine Batocabe of the DSWD National Household Targetting Office said that they have been receiving reports of local government (LGU) officials selling SAP cards (SAC). 

Remind ko lang sa ating mga kababayan not for sale ‘yan. With regards to this, Republic Act 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act) has provisions for erring LGUs. Panigurado, through DILG, once this crisis is over, ‘yung mga opisyales natin na pampagulo ay kakasuhan natin ‘yan,” said Batocabe.

(I would like to remind our countrymen that the [SAP cards] are not for sale. With regards to this, RA 11469 has provisions for erring LGUs. We assure you, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government, once this crisis is over, we will file cases against abusive officials.)

RA 11469 Section 6a holds that the government will penalize “LGU officials disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines.”

The SAP is mandated under RA 11469 to provide emergency subsidies to the 18 million poor and vulnerable families with a minimum total of P5,000 to maximum P8,000 a month for two months.  

The DSWD began releasing the P200-billion emergency fund on Friday, April 3.

Fund distribution up to LGUs

Earlier on Monday, Antique Representative Loren Legarda raised the concern of geographically challenged areas filling up their SAP forms and receiving their subsidies. There are some communities that have to travel 5 to 7 hours from mountainous areas to be able to get to the urbanized areas and government offices.

In response, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said that once the DSWD turns over the emergency subsidies to the local governments, it is up to the LGU officials to come up with a scheme for distribution, with monitoring from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the DILG. Batocabe said that it would be the best case for barangay officials to go house to house. 

To cater to those in far-fetched areas, Bautista said that upon receiving their subsidies, beneficiaries can also fill up their SACs then and there.

Kapag binigay na ang ayuda, dapat mag-fill up na rin ng SAC. Kasi nandodoon naman ‘yung tao, tatanggapin niya ayuda, para mapabilis ay fill up na rin niya ‘yung SAC,” said Bautista. 

(During the distribution of aid, the person should also fill up the SAC. Because that person is already there receiving the subsidy, in order to speed up the process, they should also fill up the SAC.) 

The complete list of target beneficiaries will depend on what the LGU will submit to the DSWD. Bautista said that the bottom line is there must be records of receipt.  

Kaya natin ginagawa ang [SAC] para sa validation… Kaya ang tanong doon, paano nalaman ng LGU na target beneficiary siya kung hindi niya alam ang profile ng recipient? Now, if we leave it to the LGU based on his profile, nakita niya ito ang mga target beneficiary, then okay lang,” said Bautista. 

(The reason why we do SAC forms is for validation… The question there is, how would the LGU know that the person is a target beneficiary if they don’t know the recipient’s profile? Now, if we leave it to the LGU based on [the beneficiary’s] profile, then that’s okay.)

“Kasi ang danger doon, kapag binigyan ng ayuda at walang basis kung natanggap niya ‘yun… doon po tayo mahihirapan. Kasi alam naman po natin na pagdating ng liquidation, sa hearing ng COA (Commission on Audit), ayun pong dokumento ang hinahanap,” he added.

(The danger there is giving subsidies with no basis of receipt… We’ll have a hard time there. Because when it comes to liquidation processes with the COA, these are the documents they look for.)

Anchor of PTV program Kilos Pronto Erwin Tulfo earlier on Monday said they received reports of SAP beneficiaries receiving less than what is designated for their region.

Who to contact? If you have concerns about non-receipt of SACs or receiving less than expected, you may call the DSWD hotline at 8-951-2803.

The Philippines is under a state of calamity, and the entire Luzon under “enhanced community quarantine,” or total lockdown, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Other parts of the country are also on lockdown to help stem the outbreak.

As of April 5, there have been 3,246 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, with 152 deaths and 64 recoveries. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer with the investigative unit of Rappler. She also covers overseas Filipinos and the rights of women and children.