MANILA – The leadership of the House of Representatives is seeking a congressional inquiry into the delays in the distribution of the social amelioration program (SAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other House leaders filed on Monday House Resolution 973 to investigate, review, and assess the implementation of SAP as part of the government’s coronavirus response. A copy of the resolution was sent to the media on Tuesday.

Cayetano said the initially prescribed procedure of the DSWD for the distribution of the SAP benefits was “lengthy and complicated”, which required “a total of thirty steps and five layers of approval, with an estimated completion time of three weeks.”

Cayetano also pointed out that another point of delay is the requirement to fill out a Social Amelioration Card (SAC) form, which was “too long, tedious, and intimidating to accomplish”. The lengthy procedure includes layers of validation of the SAC forms.

While the DSWD laid out a shortened process flow for the distribution of aid, Cayetano said the new mode would still take at least 10 days, from the orientation with local government units (LGUs) regarding the SAC forms and the submission of the list of recipients.

He noted that the 10-day period still did not include the actual payout to the beneficiaries.

“The complexity of the process and guidelines remained the same and continues to because of confusion and misunderstanding by the LGUs and the general public,” he said in the resolution.

He said this delay is contrary to the general principle espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte that the most vulnerable Filipinos shall “get the resources at the fastest possible time with the least number of requirements and regulations.”

“Contrary to the principles and directives set forth by the President to expedite the distribution of assistance to the public, the aforementioned concerns and issues caused delays which led the DSWD to miss distribution deadlines twice and for the 2nd tranche of distribution intended for the month of May to be deferred,” he said.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, an emergency subsidy amounting to a minimum of PHP5,000 to a maximum of PHP8,000 per month shall be provided to 18 million low-income households for two months.

Other signatories of HR 973 include Deputy Speakers Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Raneo Abu, Dan Fernandez, Neptali Gonzales II, as well as Batangas Rep.Theresa Collantes, Manila Rep. Cristal Bagatsing, Laguna Rep. Ruth Mariano-Hernandez, and Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez.

DSWD Undersecretary Rene Glen Paje said 81.15 percent of the SAP liquidation has been completed as of June 7 with around 1,104 LGUs submitting their reports for the first tranche of SAP.

The agency performs validation to check the eligibility of the beneficiaries and to see if there was a duplication in the provision of the assistance from DSWD and other agencies that are required to implement separate assistance under SAP.

As of June 15, DSWD reported on its website that it has already released PHP18.3 billion to 4,216,960 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s) beneficiaries.

It has also downloaded PHP81.7 to LGUs. Of this amount, some PHP80.6 billion were already distributed to 13,304,008 non-4Ps beneficiaries.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, assured that the distribution of the SAP’s second tranche through automated disbursement would be completed within two days.

ReliefAgad is a quick-relief system that would allow the DSWD to have easier access to the details of SAP beneficiaries and distribute the financial aid through an electronic payment using their smartphones.

SAP beneficiaries are encouraged to register to the ReliefAgad application by visiting http://www.reliefagad.ph to expedite the process of gathering their information for validation and them to avail of a safer and more convenient cashless disbursement. (PNA)

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