By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate is expecting that the government will iron out issues in the distribution of the emergency subsidy to poor families under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Sunday that he spoke to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III who told him that the executive department will address the national government’s inconsistent database with those of local government units (LGUs).
“I was on [the] phone with Sec. Dominguez and we discussed the issues being pointed out by the senators getting their feedback from the mayors,” Sotto told reporters in a text message.
“All are well taken and in fact, he called to tell me that the President wanted to inform us that they will straighten out the confusion brought about by the database of [the] DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) that does not tally with the LGU database,” he added.
The Senate chief said President Duterte is set to address anew the nation on the matter, taking consideration the proposals of the senators.
“One of our suggestions is to broaden the coverage of the cash subsidy or amelioration. I know what he will say but let’s leave it to him,” he said.
Senators called on the administration to give LGUs a greater role in giving out the P5,000 to P8,000 cash grant to 18 million families in the informal sector as mandated under Republic Act No. 11469, which granted the President special authority to use funds for COVID-19 response and mitigating measures.
At least P200 billion was allotted for the emergency subsidy program.
Local officials, however, lamented the discrepancies between the DSWD and their database for the social amelioration program, saying the latter’s number of target-beneficiaries does not cover all the low-income families in the respective jurisdictions.
In his first weekly report to Congress, Duterte said the DOF shall help the DSWD in forming a “consolidated database” on the beneficiaries of the financial assistance.
The list of beneficiaries shall be gathered from data from LGUs and other concerned government agencies, the report said.
Duterte is expected to submit another report to Congress today, April 6, on his implementation of the Bayanihan Act.
“Perhaps we will have an answer later or it might be contained in the report they will send later. I’m expecting the report towards the evening,” Sotto told reporters Monday.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, also on Monday, said he expects that the “wide gap” in the national government’s database and the figures gathered by the LGUs will be resolved.
“Among others, the wide gap in the DOF/DSWD list and the locally generated data on the recipients of the P200B social amelioration fund is one of the issues that we expect to be resolved,” Lacon said in a text message.