MANILA – Local officials ignoring the guidelines for the distribution of emergency relief to some 18 million poor families would face criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, Malacañang warned on Sunday.
In a virtual press conference, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said local government units (LGUs) must comply with the special guidelines on the provision of Social Amelioration Program (SAP), which provides for the distribution of cash relief to low-income households.
“’Yun ang limitasyon ng LGU (That’s the LGUs’ limitation). They have to follow what is written here. Otherwise, sila rin ang malalagot sa COA (Commission on Audit) and baka may civil, criminal at administrative liabilities silang hinaharap (Otherwise, COA will go after them and they might face civil, criminal and administrative liabilities),” Nograles said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the lead agency for the implementation of the emergency subsidy, tasked LGUs to do house-to-house distribution of the Social Amelioration Card (SAC) that needs to be filled out by each poor household head.
The SAC captures the profile of the target beneficiary who will receive the emergency relief from the national government.
Under SAP, beneficiaries will get emergency subsidies worth between PHP5,000 and PHP8,000.
Underprivileged, homeless, indigent, and indigenous families are qualified to avail of the cash assistance.
Families with members who are either informal or self-employed worker, rice farmer, fisherman, senior citizen, person with disability, pregnant or lactating women, solo parent, and distressed overseas Filipino worker will also receive the emergency relief.
Nograles, who also serves as spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said LGUs need to seal a memorandum of agreement with DSWD to facilitate the transfer of funds for the subsidy program.
He noted the DSWD will validate the list of beneficiaries within 15 days after the distribution of cash aid.
Nograles said elected and appointed public officials; government personnel contracted in memorandum of agreement, contract of service, job order or other similar schemes; formal workers; retired individuals receiving pension; and families with independent financial capacity are not qualified to receive emergency subsidies.
In case DSWD finds out that beneficiary is ineligible to receive the emergency subsidy, LGUs needs to give an explanation, Nograles said.
“The LGU will be constrained to reimburse yung mga pinagbibigyan niya na hindi qualified (the money you distributed to those not qualified). Tapos magkaroon pa ng (There will also be an) investigation for determination of administrative, civil and criminal liability,” he said.
Subject to COA rules
Nograles warned LGUs that the distribution of cash assistance to poor families are “subject to COA rules.”
He said LGUs would carry the burden, once COA sees red flags in the distribution of emergency subsidies.
Thus, LGUs must follow what is written in the guidelines on the implementation of SAP, Nograles said.
“Hindi natin pwedeng baligtarin ang mga rule ng COA. So dito po tayo magkakaroon ng problema ‘pag hindi niyo po ginawa ang mga nakasulat dito, pag in-audit po kayo ng COA (We cannot overturn COA rules. So, you will face problems if you do not follow the guidelines and once COA audits you),” he said.
Grievance mechanism, appeals system
Nograles said the government has also set up a grievance mechanism and appeals system to address complaints about the distribution of emergency subsidies.
Nograles said poor families who do not receive cash aid can file a complaint before the DSWD.
He said the DSWD would check the names of the complainants to see if they deserve to receive assistance from the national government.
“And then within three days, DSWD will make a decision,” Nograles said.
Subsidy program for MSMEs
Meantime, Nograles said the proposed PHP45-billion wage subsidy scheme for 5.9 million workers in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) affected by Covid-19 would also be studied.
The proposal was made by Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, who also serves as house ways and means committee chairman.
Nograles said the IATF-EID would check if the government still has funds to support Salceda’s proposed wage subsidy program for MSMEs.
“Let the IATF study this proposal because it’s a matter of number one, the funding or the budget for this, and number two, kung hindi ba matatamaan nito ang ating mga kasalukuyang programa (if it will not impact existing programs),” he said. (PNA)