THE House Committee on Appropriations yesterday questioned the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over the unclaimed monthly dole-outs of some hundred thousand Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.
The new DSWD secretary, Judy Taguiwalo, failed to explain how it happened but only vowed to investigate the anomaly.
At the budget hearing yesterday, appropriations committee chairman Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles asked Taguiwalo to provide the panel a list of 4Ps beneficiaries as well as the names of those that have still unclaimed monthly assistance.
Citing a 2015 Commission on Audit (CoA) report, Nograles said that there are 386,435 4Ps beneficiaries who until now have not claimed their money from the Land Bank.
The amount has reached to P139 million, according to CoA.
“Who are these beneficiaries? Are they ghosts? Are they dead already? Bakit hindi pa nila claim ang pera nila, hindi ba nila kailangan?” Nograles said.
The House leader also slammed the DSWD for not looking into the matter since it involves a huge amount and the program for the poorest Filipinos is at stake.
“Since the opening of the accounts, there is no date of monetary activities, no withdrawal recorded. What happen to the money?” Nograles asked.
Nograles questioned the capability of the DSWD in handling pro-poor projects when its target has not been met.
He cited reports that there are at least P8 billion savings from the 4Ps which should not be the case because there are poor families that need to be assisted.
Under 4Ps or Conditional Cash Transfer, each poor family receives a monthly dole out of P1,400 that can used for the education of three children and medical assistance for the members.
Taguiwalo vs lawmakers
Also during the hearing, solons had the opportunity to question Taguiwalo for issuing Memorandum Circular No. 9 that seeks to remove the privilege of congressmen and local officials to solely identify the poor who should benefit from services under the 4Ps.
Negros Oriental Rep. Arnulfo Teves insisted that lawmakers know best who the poor constituents are in their districts rather than the social workers.
“Sa tingin ko, mas alam namin kung sino ang nangangailangan. Mas may checks and balances kung may referral na galing sa congressmen dahil alam namin ang nangangailangan ng tulong. I would rather na hindi tanggalin ang checks and balances na ito,” he said.
Taguiwalo then said the department and lawmakers should not engage in debates on who knows the poor better.
Alam natin ito, we are willing to work with the congressmen, pero hindi pwedeng may entitlement,” she said.
The lady secretary said that she received reports that some lawmakers are telling their constituents to go to the DSWD for help, saying they have allocations in the department.
But Taguiwalo said since there is no more pork barrel budget in the appropriations, the lawmakers cannot do this anymore.
“Wala naman po kayong pera sa amin, kaya wala ng allocation,” she added.