Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has called on implementing government agencies for a better and smoother system of distributing the second PHP100-billion financial aid to millions of low-income families under the social amelioration program (SAP).

Cayetano said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and other SAP implementers should have learned their lessons from their mistakes in the delivery of the first tranche last month.

“I don’t want to be a genius in hindsight and say we could’ve done this and that in Bayanihan I. We acted on the exigencies, we passed Bayanihan We Heal as One with the expectation and the agreement that it will be implemented very well,” he said during his adjournment speech on Friday.

“There are problems in implementation that are understandable, but there are problems that are inexcusable.”

Cayetano said aside from the 18 million low-income households, up to 6.6 million more middle-income households were to receive financial assistance from other agencies, such as the DOLE, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Social Security System (SSS).

He attributed the delay in delivery to the failure of the agencies to expeditiously identify the intended beneficiaries and the refusal of their regional officers to coordinate with lawmakers and local officials.

“Somehow, instead of listening to the experienced members of Congress, governors, and mayors, the DSWD leadership listened to their regional directors, many of whom do not possess experience in problems of this magnitude. The original sin of not coming up with a better list spiraled into many problems,” Cayetano said.

He noted that every low- and middle-income household should receive aid in the second part of SAP that the agencies are preparing to implement.

President Rodrigo Duterte, he said, did his very best by working closely with congressional leaders in passing the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act to ensure the immediate delivery of financial aid to the beneficiaries.

“So, I go back to President Duterte’s consistency. Those of you, those of us who knew the President before he became president, his policy is simple: Don’t let the people wait, deliver service promptly,” Cayetano said.

“That’s still his policy as President. He always tells us, no red tape, no corruption.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured the public that the PHP100 billion budget earmarked for the implementation of the second phase of the SAP would be disbursed to the rightful beneficiaries and would not be pocketed by corrupt local officials.

Roque gave the assurance as he appealed anew to the public to bear with the delayed distribution of the second tranche of emergency subsidies under SAP.

“We’re also plugging the holes for corruption because when there’s no more intervention by local government units, then we reduce the possibility of corruption. So please, we ask for (the) people’s patience,” he said.

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista earlier announced that instead of local government units (LGUs), police and military personnel would take the lead in the distribution of the second tranche of the SAP aid.

About 17 million low-income households are expected to receive the second wave of cash aid from the national government.

Some 12 million of the 17 million beneficiaries also benefited from the implementation of the first phase of SAP, while the remaining five million are new recipients.

Roque assured that the 17 million poor families would get the assistance in a “matter of seconds,” once the government starts the automated distribution of the financial aid.

The DSWD has admitted that the lack of manpower is causing delays in the release of the second wave of payouts for SAP beneficiaries.

The department needs to validate the identities of the beneficiaries before it can begin the distribution of the second tranche of the emergency subsidies. (PNA)

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