MANILA - Senate finance committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda on Monday asked officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to explain why 2 million Filipino families were unable to receive their monthly Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program allowance in December 2017.
This amounted to around P1,400 per family or a total of P3.9 billion.
“Hindi dapat maulila ang tulong para sa mga pamilya sa isang buwan,” Legarda said during a committee hearing on the DSWD’s budget for 2019.
(There should never be not enough help for the families per month.)
DSWD Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin explained that when the budget for the Pantawid Pamilya program was proposed in 2017, only 90 percent of its intended beneficiaries were projected to avail themselves of the program.
But because of the rice allowance that was distributed along with the Pantawid allowance, many beneficiaries were encouraged to take advantage of the program, increasing compliance rate to 97 to 98 percent.
“Wrong planning. First of all, hindi na baleng sobra, huwag magkulang. Hindi pwedeng ‘hindi namin akalain.’ That’s so Filipino,” Legarda responded, explaining that the goal should be for all intended beneficiaries to avail themselves of the program.
(Wrong planning. First of all, it's better to have it in excess, rather than lacking. It's not okay to say 'we didn't expect it.' That's so Filipino.)
As a solution, Legarda said she will put P3.9 billion as “unbooked obligations” under the unprogrammed funds of the DSWD for 2019.
“Please assure me, that once the program is funded, it will go up to last family, to the family that did not receive in December of 2017. Walang kulang, walang sobra ang sukat (nothing less, nothing more),” she said.
In addition, Legarda said she will also look for an additional P2.2 billion projected deficiency of the Pantawid program for 2019 should the compliance rate next year reach 98 percent.
Legarda also asked the DSWD to account for unclaimed funds for conditional cash transfers (CCT), which, by DSWD’s count, amounts to more than P410 million. These funds have been unclaimed for more than 6 months.
“There are several reasons but most of the cases are that these are
cash cards that are lost or damaged and are still under processing by Landbank,” Gudmalin said.
In response, Legarda told the DSWD to warn Landbank to replace the lost or damaged cash-cards by Friday, or else, DSWD’s budget won’t be approved.
Sen. JV Ejercito also wanted to find out how the DSWD will
ensure that the Pantawid Pamilya program will not be used for campaign purposes, in light of the mid-term elections next year.
DSWD acting Secretary Virginia Orogo said they will clean their database.
She also promised that by next year, all cash-cards would have been distributed to beneficiaries so there won’t be a need to organize payouts, which are usually attended by local government officials.
Among the department’s expenditures that were also scrutinized during the hearing is the P2 billion allotted for DSWD centers and the P16 billion in accumulated funds given by the DSWD to LGUs for various projects which have remained unliquidated as of December 2017.
The DSWD explained the entire P2 billion will be fully obligated
within the month. Procurement, meanwhile, for 85 percent of construction projects have been completed and construction will begin by next month. The rest will be subject to rebidding.
Legarda concluded the hearing by telling the DSWD that its budget is considered approved subject to the submission of certain documents, including the submission of the list of delinquent LGUs.
DBM’s proposed budget for the DSWD for 2019 is P136.68 billion, which is P5.13 billion less compared to its current appropriation of P14.81 billion.