MANILA - The Department of Social Welfare and Development denied Sunday there are missing funds from the country's social amelioration program as claimed by Senator Manny Pacquiao.
The senator, who accepted President Rodrigo Duterte's challenge for him to identify corrupt agencies, alleged that some P10.4 billion funds were missing, with about 1.3 million beneficiaries supposedly unable to get aid as he questioned the use of unknown e-wallet Starpay for the program.
The agency is ready to face any investigation into the matter, said DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao.
"Nais din natin bigyan diin na wala pong nawawalang pondo hinggil sa SAP implementation," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(We also want to emphasize that there are no missing funds regarding SAP implementation.)
The DSWD had terminated last April its engagement with all financial service providers (FSPs) it partnered with for SAP, and manually gave out the remaining funds to beneficiaries who had technical issues in getting their assistance, Dumlao said.
"Ang FSPs, kabilang ang Starpay, ay ni-liquidate lahat ng budget na kanilang natanggap. Anumang pondo kanilang natanggap ay ni-refund sa DSWD. It is now being distributed sa mga natitira pang SAP beneficiaries," she said.
(We liquidated all budget given to FSPs including Starpay. Whatever fund they received were refunded to the DSWD. It is now being distributed to the remaining SAP beneficiaries.)
Starpay along with other FSPs such as GCash, Paymaya, Robinsons Bank, Unionbank, and RCBC, were selected through the technical assistance of the central bank, Dumlao added.
"Nalulula po ako. Doon po sa binanggit ko na isang isyu lamang, P10.4 billion na po kaagad ‘yon. Malaking pera po," Pacquiao said on Saturday.
He said he would file a resolution seeking a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on Starpay and the other agencies allegedly involved in corruption by Monday.
“May hawak akong mga ebidensya, matibay na ebidensya. Pero ire-refer ko ito sa committee… Katulad ng sinabi ko, sa ebidensya ko, P10.4 billion ang nawawala,” according to Pacquiao.
(I have evidence, strong evidence but I would just refer this to the committee. Just like what I said, based on the evidence that I have, some P10.4 billion in funds are missing.)
Duterte last week threatened to expose Pacquiao, once his close ally, as a "liar" if the lawmaker failed to prove his claim that the government is 3 times more corrupt than previous administrations.
Rumored to be eyeing the country's top post during next year's national elections, Pacquiao also criticized Duterte's approach toward China on the South China Sea issue as lacking and disheartening.
He had said he is not attacking Duterte when he raised the corruption issue, but is instead helping the administration's campaign against the problem.
- with reports from Job Manahan and Tarra Quismundo, ABS-CBN News