MANILA (UPDATE) - Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday he will seek an investigation into the delayed implementation of the National ID System, saying the policy could have eased the distribution of cash aid for 18 million poor families during the coronavirus lockdown.
As of April 8, the social welfare department distributed P16.34 billion to 4.4 million families when the budget department released P101.5 billion, based on President Rodrigo Duterte's expenditure report to lawmakers.
"We passed the national ID system almost 2 years ago yet it has not been implemented by the government," Sotto told reporters in a text message.
"The system should have been in place now if not for the red tape. I will urge the Senate to investigate why this is so when we resume [session]," he said.
Sotto said sources told him that red tape in several agencies has slowed down the roll-out of the policy mandating government to create a single official identification card for all citizens and foreign residents.
The national ID system could have solved discrepancies in the list of cash aid beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local governments, Sotto said in an earlier statement.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units are fixing discrepancies in their lists of beneficiaries, Malacanang earlier said.
Sen. Joel Villanueva described the delay in the distribution of cash aid as "really unacceptable."
"Urgency is the name of the game... Let’s give all of them assistance, now. Instead of wasting time generating lists," he said.
Congress authorized Duterte at the start of the Luzon lockdown last March to realign funds and give P5,000 to P8,000 cash allowance for 2 months to 18 million indigent families.
About 10 percent of the P200 billion fund for the Social Amelioration Program, has been distributed to poor families, according to Duterte's third weekly report to Congress.
Sotto, in a separate interview with DZMM's Failon Ngayon, said local government units should shoulder the cash aid to indigent families and reimburse the cost from the national government to speed up the distribution of financial assistance.
"'Yung pera kikitain ulit ng gobyerno pero 'yung buhay ng tao hindi puwede ibalik," he said.
(The government can earn that money again but we cannot bring back a person's life.)