MANILA - The Department of Social Welfare and Development has stopped accepting online applications for educational assistance, DSWD Spokesperson ASec. Romel Lopez said on Monday.
The DSWD's 500 million pesos initial budget was estimated to help up to 200,000 students., but the DSWD's budget for educational assistance ballooned to P1.5 billion allowing for the program to benefit up to 400,000 students.
However, Lopez revealed that the DSWD now has 2 million applications for the educational assistance program.
"Sa sobrang dami nga po, hindi na kaya ng sistema. Minarapat na ni Secretary Erwin [Tulfo] na itigil na po ang online application," Lopez said in an interview with Teleradyo.
(The number of applications have overwhelmed our system so DSWD Sec. Tulfo advised to stop accepting online applications.)
Of the 2 million, the DSWD must sort through duplicate submissions and applications in offices which do not match the locality of the applicant, burdening its already limited manpower handling the program's beneficiaries.
"'Yan ang kasama sa nahihirapan kaming i-proseso ngayon. Dati 'yung aming pag-reply sa kanila tumatagal lang ng 2-3 days, may natatanggap kaming reklamo, inaamin namin na 'yung iba August pa nag-apply, isang buwan na hindi pa kami nakaka-reply," Lopez said.
(We admit we are struggling with the number of applications we have now. We used to be able to reply to an application within 2-3 days, but we have been receiving reports where an applicant has waited for over a month for a response from us.)
Processing of applications for beneficiaries has overwhelmed the DSWD's crisis intervention unit which handles the educational assistance program, so staff handling other programs of the department pitch in to help.
"Nakalulungkot man, talagang hindi na po kaya ng aming sistema," Lopez added.
(We regret to say that our system can no longer handle the number of people who need help.)
Lopez assured that as long as there is remaining budget, the DSWD will continue to process applications for educational assistance. He hopes additional budget will be allocated by the national government to its initial 194 billion pesos.
"Historically hindi naman nababawasan ang pondo ng DSWD, bagkus ito ay nadadagdagan (Historically, the DSWD gets more than it pitches for)," he explained.
The DSWD is also seeking to source funding from lawmakers to augment the agency's budget for the educational assistance program.
"Pagtutulungan lang namin ang funding. Ibigay na rin po natin sa ating mga mambabatas, kabisado nila ang kanilang locality, mas makakatulong ito na ma-identify natin ang poorest fothe poor, mas mapahaba ang pisi at mas mapalawak ang maabot ng educational assistance," Lopez clarified.
(We hope to get support from congressmen to fund the educational assistance program in their localities. Coordinating with them would help us better identify the poorest of the poor, and augment the program's budgets so more people can benefit from it.)