MANILA - Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned the government’s use of purportedly outdated data as basis to distribute financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was why some those in need were not supposedly able to receive it.
Speaking before members of transport groups in Lipa, Batangas, Lacson said many households were not listed as among beneficiaries of subsidies allocated under the Bayanihan 1.
He said the executive department supposedly used data from 2015.
Only one percent of the funds allotted for public utility drivers and operators, he said, were distributed as of early 2021. He questioned why the funds did not reach the intended recipients fast enough.
“Dapat malaman natin sino ba iyong walang trabaho na ngayong 2020 at 2021. Hindi in-update. Marami pang kalokohan na habang bumababa, nababawasan. Hindi nalalaman kung saan napupunta ang pondo. Kaya ang pangunahing advocacy ko sa Senado, ang pagbabantay ng national budget," said the lawmaker who is among the 2022 presidential aspirants.
(We should know who became jobless last year and this year. It was not updated. There are so many anomalies in the program, and we don't know where the funds went. That's why my primary advocacy in the Senate is monitoring the national budget.)
Lacson urged the government to come up with other ways to cope with the pandemic such as opening up the economy, as tough lockdowns supposedly do not work.
“Ang gobyerno natin, walang ginawa kundi mag-lockdown. Lockdown nang lockdown nang lockdown. Hindi naman nagbabago ang buhay natin,” he pointed out.
(The government did not do anything but to implement lockdowns. Yet, our lives did not change.)
“Dapat umisip ng paraan ang gobyerno na tigilan na ang kaka-lockdown. I-open na ang ekonomiya kasi lugmok na tayo. Alam niyo ang utang ng Pilipinas ngayon? Nasa 11.6 trillion (pesos) na. At bago bumaba itong administrasyon ngayon, papalo tayo ng 13.4 trillion pesos."
(We should think of ways other than lockdowns. We should open our economy. The country's debt has risen to P11.6 trillion. And before Duterte steps down, that would balloon to P13.4 trillion.)
The Social Amelioration Program cash subsidy was provided by Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020, which intended to aid 18 million Filipino families who bore the brunt of previous lockdowns in Luzon and other areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, another presidential aspirant, said some P10.4 billion in SAP funds are missing, with about 1.3 million beneficiaries supposedly unable to get critical pandemic aid.
Pacquiao also questioned the use of unknown e-wallet Starpay for the program.
Meanwhile, Lacson said he was able to speak with leaders and members of transport group Fejodap and Toda and discussed issues affecting the transport industry.
In a statement, the senator said he received the backing of transport groups in the Calabarzon district for his presidential bid next year.
Present at the consultation were Lipa City mayoralty candidate, Ret. Gen. Nestor Sanares and vice mayoralty bet Camille Lopez, who supports him.
As a son of a jeepney driver, Lacson said he feels the suffering of public utility drivers and said that it is wrong for authorities to milk “kotong” from drivers and vendors.
Lacson and Pacquiao are among 97 individuals who filed their candidacy for President next year. The others include Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, and labor leader Leody De Guzman.
The Commission on Elections will trim the list in the coming months to remove those found to be nuisance candidates.
The official campaign period for national position candidates for the May 9, 2022 elections will start only on Feb. 8, 2022.
--- Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News