DSWD refutes COA report on unclaimed Pantawid funds

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said there are still remaining124,845 accounts with unwithdrawn cash grants amounting to ₱1.077 billion under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as of the end of 2017.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN) Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The agency denied having 1,889,994 unclaimed accounts amounting to ₱1.206 billion, based on a recent Commission on Audit (COA) report.

“After closely coordinating with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) on the validation of the accounts being questioned, the Pantawid Pamilya National Program Management Office (NPMO) said that about 95.5 percent (1,806,798 versus 1,889,994) of the accounts have balances of less than ₱100, which automatically cannot be withdrawn by beneficiaries,” DSWD Secretary Virginia Orogo explained.

Furthermore, she said the DSWD only considers accounts to be inactive and non-moving if no withdrawals had been done for more than 180 days.

She explained that given this parameter, only 83,196 accounts with the amount of ₱708,751,052.51 are considered as non-moving accounts. This number represents only 3.11 percent of the total 2.67 million beneficiaries included in the audit findings of COA.

“To declare that the holders of the accounts were not in dire need of assistance and do not really belong to the poorest of the poor is an unfair assumption,” Orogo said.

In addition, she explained that there are other factors why the accounts of beneficiaries are unmoving.

These include delay in the processing of change of grantee request of beneficiaries; delay in the transfer from old accounts to new accounts; unreported damage, loss, or captured cash cards of beneficiaries; replacement of lost or damaged cards of LBP that takes about three months to one year; beneficiaries who transferred residences without informing their municipal or city links and fail to claim their cash cards at the LBP; and cash cards whose grantees already work abroad or are already deceased and can no longer be claimed, thus accumulating the cash grants.

“For instance, the issuance of new cards is done by LBP and has a timeline for the release of the card. Not to mention the validation of the identity of the client with the Pantawid Pamilya Project Management Office. Such may take time to accomplish affecting the withdrawal of cash grants,” Orogo said.

As of August 7, NPMO also reported that 19,519 accounts amounting to ₱176,902,948.03 were already withdrawn, while 12,841 accounts are for closure since the members were either delisted, exited, waived, and or transferred to new accounts.

About 5,236 accounts are still awaiting replacement of LBP cash cards in the amount of ₱43,091,520.21, while 1,629 accounts with the amount of ₱21,049,238.06 have issues on withdrawal such as lost, damaged, or brought by family members who do not know the pin number.

Currently, the NPMO is still awaiting the submission of validation results of 43,903 accounts amounting to ₱379,131,435.30.

“The DSWD ensures that the poorest of the poor are given the appropriate response, monitors each account of the beneficiaries and that the resources of the government are utilized accordingly. In doing this, we are taking into consideration the needs of the Pantawid Pamilya household beneficiaries by validating their circumstances,” Orogo said.