DSWD has P10 billion unused pandemic cash aid funds, Senate inquiry finds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 04:33 PM

San Juan City residents line up to receive their second tranche of financial aid under the social amelioration program through ATM machines on September 10, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Social Welfare and Development still has P10 billion left in its funds allocated for the second tranche of the distribution of the social amelioration program, a senate inquiry on the agency's proposed 2021 budget found Tuesday. 

In the Senate's online hearing for the agency's budget for 2021, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto pointed out that there are around P10 billion unused funds in the second wave of the SAP distribution.

"The budget allocated in Bayanihan 1 was for 2 tranches for 18 million families? Now you mentioned that the 2nd number of SAP you reduced to 14 million families," Recto said, in response to DSWD's proposed budget. 

While presenting its proposal for the 2021 budget, DSWD said it had disbursed P83.1 billion of P94.5 billion in SAP funds. The inquiry also found that the number of families who benefited from the second tranche of the distribution of the pandemic cash aid were slashed from 18 million to 14 million families. 

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista explained that only 14 million families were in the list, based on the information provided by the local government units (LGUs) for the second tranche of the SAP. 

"We would have wanted to give the full 18 million during the 2nd tranche. But the LGUs have just submitted some 14 million and I would like to mention that out of the 8.5 million [beneficiaries] waitlisted, which they are supposed to submit, they have only submitted 5.1 million beneficiaries," DSWD Undersecretary Danilo Pamonag said, in response to Recto's question. 

Some beneficiaries were counted as "double compensation" and were removed from the list, he further explained. 

"We would have wanted to give the full 18 million during the 2nd tranche the LGUs have just submitted some 14 million and I would like to mention that out of the 8.5 million waitlisted, which they are supposed to submit, they have only submitted 5.1 million beneficiaries.

However, Recto said more families need the second tranche of the SAP since a lot of people lost their jobs. 

"It's a shortfall and based on the appropriations so merong 4 million nakatanggap isang SAP lang. May 4 million na hindi nakatanggap ng second tranche, and you know the SAP 2 is even more important kasi yung SAP 1 nawalan ka na ng trabaho. 'Yung SAP 2 continuing din yan walang trabaho at lumaki 'yung unemployment diba? And poverty incidence is on the rise I suppose," Recto said. 

(It's a shortfall and based on the appropriations there are 4 million who only received the first tranche of the SAP. There are 4 million who did not receive the second tranche and SAP 2 is even more importante because in SAP 1, [it was given for when] you've lost your job. [Beneficiaries] of the SAP's second tranche are still unemployed and unemployment rates are rising. Poverty incidence is on the rise, I suppose.) 

The agency will wait for the Department of Budget and Management's order if they will return the unused funds to the National Treasury. DSWD added it may use the fund for livelihood programs, pending approval from the Office of the President. 

But Senators Recto, Nancy Binay, and finance committee chairperson Imee Marcos said the funds should be used for government cash aids, as many poor families did not receive their own share of the SAP during the pandemic.

-- With a report from Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News