By Ellson Quismorio
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has frowned on the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) supposed refusal to provide local government units (LGUs) with its list of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries.
In a Facebook Live post Sunday afternoon, Cayetano said that having such list on hand would be of great help to the LGUs in delivering the promised aid under the social amelioration program of the government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes the P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid intended for some 18 million vulnerable families in the country.
“Ang sabi ngayon, may listahan na raw ang DSWD kung ilan [bibigyan], iyon lang ang ibibigay sayo na forms (They say that DSWD now has a list of beneficiaries under this program and they will give LGUs the corresponding number of forms). Now let me tell you the problems that will create,” said Cayetano, who represents Taguig-Pateros in the Lower Chamber.
“I asked [Manila] Mayor Isko [Moreno Domagoso], I asked [Taguig] Mayor Lino [Cayetano], nakiusap ako kay Mayor Lino na tanungin sa ibang mayors hanggang sa kapitan kung totoo o hindi… na ayaw ibigay ng DSWD yung listahan ng 4Ps sa kanila. Pare-pareho po ang sagot sa akin pati po doon sa nakikipag-usap sa amin from DSWD, they agree, hindi po sila magbibigay ng pangalan nung 4Ps (I asked Mayor Lino to ask his fellow mayors down to the village captains whether or not it’s true that the DSWD refuses to give their 4Ps list to them. Their answers, including that from the DSWD representative talking to us, were the same — they agree, they won’t release the names of the beneficiaries under 4Ps),” he said.
Cayetano explained how this would just add to the bureaucracy and further delay the distribution of the much-needed aid to Filipinos.
“Like in Taguig, ang inapprove 102,000 families. [‘Yung] 92,000 families daw i-identify ng local government, ‘yung 10,000, 4Ps. Pero hindi nila sinasabi yung 4Ps (102,000 families were approved for the aid. They said the local government will identify 92,000 families, while the remaining 10,000 will be taken from the 4Ps list. Yet they’re not revealing the names of the 4Ps beneficiaries),” he said.
In the case of Manila, Cayetano said Mayor Domagoso has submitted to the DSWD its list of social amelioration beneficiaries for what could be described as needless counter-checking by the agency.
“Sinubmit daw niya (Domagoso) sa DSWD kung sino yung bibigyan na pinakamahirap. Ang DSWD daw ang magtatanggal kung sino yung sa 4Ps. Eh di ganun din, humaba pa yung proseso (Mayor Domagoso said he submitted to the DSWD a list of his poorest constituents who should be given aid. The DSWD will then strike off 4Ps beneficiaries from this list. It’s the same as letting the LGUs do the job, this process just takes longer).”
Overseen by the DSWD, the 4Ps has for years served as the country’s flagship poverty-alleviation program. It is designed to target the “poorest of the poor.”
In cases where the actual number of poor families are greater than those approved for the pandemic-related social amelioration efforts, Cayetano said LGU officials would be forced to identify those who need aid the most, as opposed to those who can manage without it.
“And usually ang pinakanangangailagan, 4Ps (And usually, the most needy are those listed under 4Ps),” noted the Speaker.
Cayetano also mentioned the simple and yet potentially costly problem of not having enough forms for distribution.
“Problema po ng mga kapitan ngayon, kulang na nga yung forms niyo (DSWD). Kapag binigay niyo sa miyembro ng 4Ps at pinirmahan yan, nawalan kayo ng isang pamilya na pwedeng bigyan (The problem of barangay captains right now is, you already don’t have enough forms. If you give one to a family under 4Ps and it gets signed, that means one other family won’t be receiving assistance).”
His criticisms notwithstanding, Cayetano said he and his fellow congressmen “cares for the DSWD” since they are among the frontliners of the current public health emergency.
Cayetano earlier vowed that the House would be constructive in its oversight function on the government’s response on the pandemic.