DSWD vows no more anomalies after LGUs removed from cash aid distribution

Michelle Abad

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Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista guarantees that since the DSWD will no longer transfer funds to local government units, local officials can no longer meddle with the cash aid

MONITORING. The DSWD Field Office Caraga reviews subsidy cards of beneficiaries in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte. Photo from DSWD Caraga website

MANILA, Philippines – After reports of local officials allegedly politicking in choosing beneficiaries and pocketing money from the first tranche of the emergency subsidy program (ESP), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) promised that there will be no more anomalies committed in the next wave of aid.

Unlike the first tranche, where the DSWD transferred the funds to the local government units (LGUs) to distribute to their constituents, the second tranche involves direct transfer from the agency to the Land Bank of the Philippines, which would then transfer the funds to the beneficiaries’ preferred financial service providers (FSPs).

The FSPs the government tapped to help distribute cash aid are GCash, PayMaya, Robinsons Bank, UnionBank, RCBC, and Starpay. (READ: DSWD cash aid might be subject to withdrawal fees)

Sa dahilang ang DSWD na mismo ang magpapamahagi ng second tranche at wala nang gagawing pag-transfer ng pondo sa mga lokal na pamahalaan, ay makakasiguro tayo na wala nang mangyayaring anomalya sa hanay ng ating lokal na opisyal,” said Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista in a press briefing on Thursday, July 2.

(Because the DSWD itself will distribute the second tranche and there will be no more transfers to local government units, we can be assured that there will be no more anomalies at the level of local officials.)

Bautista said the DSWD is coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government with regard to complaints filed against local officials.

Over 100 barangay officials are facing criminal complaints over cash aid anomalies.

Reiterating ‘complete’ 1st tranche

In Thursday’s briefing, Bautista echoed Social Welfare Undersecretary Danilo Pamonag’s statement on June 25 that the first tranche was complete, despite a Palace report showing that almost 300,000 families had yet to receive their promised aid.

Technically, we consider the payouts of the first tranche complete based on the 98% accomplishment rate,” Bautista said in Filipino.

“Maraming dahilan kung kaya mayroong variance na umabot ng [300,000] na target beneficiaries, tulad ng napag-alaman na ineligible ang benepisyaryo, ibinalik ng benepisyaryo ang natanggap niyang emergency subsidy, o kaya nag-waive o boluntaryong hindi itinanggap ng benepisyaryo ang ayuda,” he added.

(There are many reasons why there’s a variance that reached up to 300,000 target beneficiaries, like discovering ineligible beneficiaries, beneficiaries who returned their subsidies, or those who waived their cash aid voluntarily.)

The Malacañang report acknowledges this discrepancy as well – that the government was adjusting the “estimated beneficiaries” for reasons of disqualification. However, the report’s 17.9-million count of estimated beneficiaries as of June 29 was only around 10,000 less than the original number of beneficiaries stated in the omnibus guidelines for social amelioration.

Registration closed

Bautista also said registration is closed for families who still want to be a part of the ESP but were neither included in the first tranche nor the waitlisted beneficiaries. Instead, they may approach their LGU for their needs.

For the qualified beneficiaries who did not get to register with the DSWD’s ReliefAgad app, Bautista said not to worry, as data can be retrieved from the lists submitted by LGUs on who are part of the program.

Filipinos can still be seen on the DSWD’s social media posts appealing to be part of the ESP. The program’s implementation, which the House of Representatives is currently investigating due to delays, has left thousands of Filipinos waiting for aid that may never come. (READ: IN LIMBO: Poor families still await subsidies during coronavirus lockdown)

The DSWD on Thursday asked for “understanding” of the beneficiaries as they wait for their cash aid to arrive.

The second tranche of the ESP, meant for May, only began on June 11. The DSWD expects the digital payouts to begin in the “coming days.” – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.