MANILA - The Commission on Audit (COA) has questioned the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over irregularities in the implementation of the multibillion peso conditional cash transfer program under the Arroyo and Aquino administrations.
In its 2012 annual audit report of the DSWD, the COA found that an audit of the conditional cash transfer payroll for the period of January to August 2012 totaling to P18,683,963,000 revealed "duplication of names for 4,443 HH beneficiaries for grants totaling P17.435,700 and additional service charge of P184,140.00."
It added that the double entries reported in the 2011 audit report were still included in the 2012 observation, which raised concerns on the efficiency of the program.
It said the actual overpayments due to double entries paid to the beneficiaries through cash cards amounted to P3,113,500. Possible overpayment through over the counter transactions amounted to P5604350, COA added.
In a statement to ABS-CBN, the DSWD said the Pantawid Pamilya worked on the data forwarded by COA that included 6,082 households. In the print version, it was only around 4,000+ households but was actually 6,082 in the electronic copy sent to DSWD.
From the period January 15 to May 28, field offices have validated the list of supposed duplicates and based on the latest validation by all regions:
1. 1,971 entries were validated as duplicates;
2. 237 were found to be fraudulent (which means the beneficiaries claimed their grants twice); and,
3. 3,476 were retained.
DSWD said delisting of ineligible beneficiaries "is a regular activity governed by the Grievance Redress System."
"A total of 2,208 household have been delisted after having been found to be duplicates or fraudulent," the department said.
The department said it has validated a total of P214,100 overpaid cash grants. If DSWD monitors a family to have received P2,800 above the amount they are supposed to get (meaning they have been overpaid), they will not be given grants in the succeeding payout schedules until that amount has been offset.
"The family will only resume receiving cash grants after two months (assuming that they regularly receives P1,400 a month) as the overpayment they got would have covered (and been the payments) for those two months."
Separately, in its 2012 consolidated audit report on official development assistance programs and projects, COA also said grants and service fees of P50.15 million were paid to 7,782 household beneficiaries which could not be found in the list of validated and registered household beneficiaries of the National Household Targeting Office (NHTO).
It said this runs contrary to Special Provisions No. 5 of CY 2012 GAA and thus "may be considered irregular and further resulting in additional cost to the Government in the distribution of Conditional Cash Transfers."
Soliman said the supposedly 7,782 missing household beneficiaries of the CCT have already been accounted for with the COA.
"Nung binigyan kami ng ganung feedback binalikan namin listing sa National Household Targeting System at sa Pantawid Pamilya naipakita namin sa COA and we can give you the details na lahat po ay accounted. Kasama sila binalikan namin listing sa database sa NHTS at listing sa Pantawid. Sa second pass, lumabas pangalan may 20 names na inulit dahil corrupted ang portion and we had to go through it again to make sure andun ang 20 names," she said.
Minus the duplicated entries, there were only 7762 household beneficiaries and all have been accounted for.
The supposedly missing households came from Regions 3 (384 households) , 4A (1800 households) , 4B (91499 households) , 5 (1549 households), 7 (749 households) and 11 (1801 households).
Soliman said that assuming each household beneficiary has complied with the CCT’s conditions for availment, a beneficiary family may get as much as P2,800 every two months. That's 300 pesos per child and a maximum of 3 children per family plus a P500 health grant.
Availment is conditioned upon the 85% attendance of the kids in school and of the parents at health centers.
in the same report, COA also held DSWD accountable for "disbursements of P3.18 billion for grants paid through over the counter (OTC) for CYs 2008 to 2012 remain undocumented as of December 31, 2012 which cast doubts on the propriety of the recorded disbursements without the submitted Liquidation Reports which is not consistent with Section 4(6) of PD 1445.(SWDRP implemented by DSWD)."
Soliman said the department has yet to liquidate some P1.3 billion in conditional cash transfer program funds.
She said the unliquidated amounts are paltry compared to the total budget for the CCT.
"Nung 2011, ang total budget namin was P21 billion for Pantawid. Hindi namin na-liquidate of P21 billion is P634 million. Nung 2012 ang total budget was P39 billion. Hindi na-liquidate is P748 million," she said.
Soliman attributed the failure to liquidate to the distance of the areas concerned. She said the DSWD's liquidation involved reconciling the records of their roving book keepers and the bookkeepers of the conduits of the Land Bank of the Philippines.
She said that since Land Bank cannot disburse all of the funds in rural areas, it identifies rural banks, remittance serves such as GCash and cooperatives to act as conduits of the funds.
"Kailangan liquidation ng conduits at documentation ng municipal roving bookkeeper. Yun ang nagiging challenge for farflung places. Pagdating ng receipts like ARMM, pagsisiguro na conduit nagmamatch," she said.
Soliman said significant portions of the unliquidated amounts were meant for the island municipalities of the ARMM as well as island and coastal municipalities of Region 2 and Palawan. She said she hopes the liquidation can be finished midyear.
However, the DSWD chief is also concerned that there will be a backlog in liquidation since supertyphoon "Yolanda" destroyed their records for Region 8.
"Lahat ng Yolanda areas particularly field office 8 dahil lahat ng papeles nabasa at di makita unrecognizable, that’s what were going to do - reconstructing from data in central office dahil computers nabasa di ma-reconstruct agad. The first thing we are trying is retrieve data. Yun yung aming steps para mapabilis. We aim if not sooner June 2014 to finish liquidation of balance P1.3 billion still to be liquidated from P3.18 billion which is 2011 and 2012," she said.
The conditional cash transfer program, which was first implemented by the Arroyo administration, has become the centerpiece poverty reduction program of the Aquino administration.
The Arroyo administration’s original concept for the CCT was for it to end in 5 years, meaning the first batch of recipients should have exited the program in 2013 since the program was first implemented in 2008.
Soliman, however, said the program will go beyond the Aquino administration whose term ends in 2016.
“Tingin ko hanggang may pamilya nangangailangan ng tulong, it is their right to be assisted. Rights-based approach. Incumbent upon government we should endeavor to move this number of families out of poverty. To be able to reach by 2016, we need to move 11 million individuals out of poverty," she said.
She also denied that the program is a palliative but an investment on children who are poor "so they will get a fighting chance to benefit from fruit of inclusive growth."
"As you also know, we have been stricken by disaster in magnitudes not seen by whole world. Yung mga pamilya na di poor sa areas ng Haiyan, marami na naging poor kahit middle class. We're doing reassessment of the National Household Targeting System database and looking at numbers of poor families needed to be assisted," she said.