The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Sunday, July 4, said it was “willing to face any investigating body” and present evidence to address Senator Manny Pacquiao’s allegations of corruption, including a missing P10.4 billion in pandemic aid.
On Saturday, July 3, Pacquiao said the DSWD entered into an agreement with e-wallet app Starpay to disburse social amelioration program (SAP) funds, but some 1.3 million beneficiaries were unable to get their financial assistance.
Pacquiao had said he would file a Senate resolution next week urging the blue ribbon committee to probe into the alleged corruption in DSWD and other agencies.
“The DSWD is willing to face any investigating body and present the necessary evidence and other relevant documents to clarify the allegations raised by Senator Manny Pacquiao on the implementation of the SAP,” the department said in a statement Sunday.
The DSWD said it had already attended congressional hearings on implementing SAP and “presented all the necessary reports for transparency,” aside from “regular financial reports” submitted to oversight agencies and the Office of the President.
On Saturday, Pacquiao alleged there were P10.4 billion funds missing, and questioned why the DSWD entered into a deal with Starpay, which had only P62,000 in paid-up capital.
The department explained that it worked with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in choosing Financial Service Providers (FSPs) such as Starpay for the distribution of the second tranche of the SAP.
Aside from Starpay, the DSWD said it also engaged the services of other FSPs including Robinsons Bank, UnionBank, RCBC, GCash, and PayMaya.
“In identifying the FSPs, BSP explained that primary considerations were given to the presence of payout partners to ensure ease and ability to cash out by beneficiaries balanced with other considerations such as: presence of any business model institutions, historical experience in commercial rollout, and type of cash-out points that may contribute to ensuring liquidity or availability of cash,” the department said.
According to the DSWD, funds provided to the FSPs are all accounted for, and that there are “no missing funds.”
The DSWD said it had already terminated the services of the FSPs last April 2021 and has since conducted manual payouts for the unserved second tranche beneficiaries.
“The FSPs, including Starpay,” the department stated, “liquidated the budget that they received and refunded the amount for the unserved beneficiaries to the DSWD,” it added.
On Saturday, Pacquiao also accused the Department of Energy of corruption for entering into an alleged questionable agreement with the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines.
He said he was also investigating the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Health.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said he “will not shirk from the responsibility” should any Senate resolution be filed.
“What will be strange, if not irregular however, in this situation will be the reality is while the accuser has made an accusation, he opts not to be present when the investigation is supposed to be conducted,” Gordon said in a statement Sunday.
Pacquiao left for Los Angeles on Saturday to prepare for a boxing match between him and Errol Spence.
“The gauntlet had been thrown down, he has chosen to pick it up. He who has picked it up cannot suddenly leave and ask someone else to wage the fight in his stead,” the senator said. – Rappler.com