DSWD to fast-track release of P83 billion in unused funds as millions reel from COVID-19, typhoons

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2020 01:16 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2020 01:45 PM

Social Amelioration Program beneficiaries from San Juan City line up and process their details as employees of the City Social Welfare and Development office try to reconcile the codes used for the distribution of the cash aid, Aug. 28, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Thursday it would fast-track the release of P83 billion worth of unused funds as millions of Filipinos contend with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and spate of typhoons that struck the country.

“Despite all the challenges we are facing, on the restrictions on procurement, on some guidelines we need to follow, the manpower limitations of DSWD, we are exerting all our efforts to expedite the full utilization of our funds,” the agency’s spokesperson Irene Dumlao told Teleradyo.

“Likewise, the DSWD also assures that spending will be above board, that we follow all that is provided under the law. We make sure that it is prudent and judicious and that we identify the right beneficiaries who will receive the needed assistance,” she added in a mix of Filipino and English.

The DSWD made the announcement after a Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget found that it had P75 billion left from its 2020 budget and some P6.7 billion from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). It also has yet to spend some P1.5 billion from its 2019 budget.

Of DSWD’s 2020 budget, P48.3 billion was allocated for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); P2.1 billion for the Supplementary Feeding Program for day-care children; P2.6 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood Program; and P3.9 billion for the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens.

Dumlao said they had already sought assistance from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for modification of the funds so they could be used for other DSWD programs.

The disbursements were also delayed because the agency only received a portion of its funding on October 22, she added.

Dumlao also assured the public that the payout of the government’s cash aid will continue for poor families, including wait-listed beneficiaries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency earlier said some 5 million families were left out in the first tranche of the emergency subsidy.

She said the payout was hampered by the lack of information, such as contact numbers of the beneficiaries and their complete names.

Dumlao said the agency has so far disbursed cash subsidies to 18 million families in the first wave of SAP and 14 million in the program’s second tranche.

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