By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has vowed to remove any cumbersome rules in the distribution of emergency subsidy to low-income families and hold accountable those involved in any anomaly related to it.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government will not tolerate any red tape and corruption that will delay the implementation of the social amelioration program for poor families affected by the coronavirus quarantine.
The two-month emergency subsidy program, supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is provided for in the recently signed Bayanihan To Heal as One Act that authorizes President Duterte to implement measures to effectively address the public health emergency.
“Ayaw po natin ng delays, ‘di ba, so kung may mga cumbersome rules or mga red tape na nandiyan, we try to do away with it as much as possible,” Nograles said in a virtual press conference Monday.
(We don’t want delays. If there are cumbersome rules or red tape there, we will try to do away with it as much as possible.)
“Kaya nandiyan na rin po iyong ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority), para tingnan kung saan iyong mga may problema sa system na…kung saan nagkakabuhul-buhol, ano iyong mga cumbersome para we can do away with it without sacrificing, of course, iyong ating pag-account at audit.”
(That’s why ARTA is there, to check on any problems in the system, where it’s tangled, what is cumbersome, so we can do away with it without sacrificing, of course, the accounting and audit.)
Nograles also warned against committing fraud and other irregularities in the relief aid distribution. Government offices like the Office of the Ombudsman and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission are prepared investigate complaints of suspected corruption, he said.
“Kung may discrepancies, kung may report sa atin, i-investigate agad natin. We have the full strength of the Office of the President, kasama na iyong ARTA, kasama iyong Presidential Anti-Corruption. Siyempre nandiyan din iyong Ombudsman, although that’s separate from the Office of the President,” he said.
(If there are discrepancies, if we receive such reports, we will immediately investigate them. We have the full strength of the Office of the President, with the ARTA and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. The Ombudsman is also there, although that’s separate from the Office of the President).
“So kung may mga discrepancies at may pandaraya, nandiyan po iyong mga mekanismo na iyan.”
(So if there are discrepancies and fraud, these mechanisms are in place.)
A technical working group led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has also been directed to use digital solutions to hasten the distribution and accounting of the social amelioration program, Nograles said.
Nograles likewise maintained that the DSWD will remain in charge of the implementation of the social protection program. The social welfare department, however, may still seek the assistance of local government units (LGUs) in handing out the financial aid, he said.
“Assistance ng LGUs is also very crucial, siyempre, dahil nga, totoo ang sabi mo ‘no, sila ang nakakakilala ng kanilang constituents, sila ang nakakaalam kung ano iyong applicable at sino iyong mga pamilya na dapat piliin, at sila ang nakakakilala sa mga constituents nila,” he said.
(The assistance of LGUs is also very crucial because they know their constituents, they know the families who must be chosen.)
He said local government officials may also give recommendations that may help hasten the distribution system suitable in their local situations.
“But again, it’s DSWD and the national government ang magmamando (that will supervise),” he added.
President Duterte earlier stripped local politicians of the authority to implement the social protection program, and instead tapped the DSWD to take full control and supervision of the project. The program involves the distribution of a cash subsidy of between P5,000 to P8,000 to low-income families for the months of April and May.
Some senators earlier asked the national government to give the local government units a greater role in the delivery of the financial aid to to the target beneficiaries since they know better the condition of their communities.