By Ben Rosario
As the window for the needy to get government financial aid slowly closes, over 311,000 rice farmers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) continue to wait for their share of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) benefits.
With this development, Deputy Speaker and 1Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero strongly supports a congressional probe into the delay in the delivery of financial assistance to intended beneficiaries of SAP.
The projected congressional inquiry has the support of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who gave the job to the Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor.
Romero lamented that there remains a huge number of rice farmers and OFWs still denied access to the cash benefits that would tide them over during COVID-19 pandemic.
He said based on the SAP implementing agencies’ reports as of last week, a total of 311,162, or less than half of the 741,246 targeted beneficiaries, are still awaiting the cash aid due them.
He said 591,246 rice farmers were to get P5,000 each from the Department of Agriculture, but only 266,284 have so far received the assistance.
Romero pointed out of the 150,000 displaced OFWs, only 44,878 got P10,000 each from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
He said the two agencies have disbursed a total of P3.415 billion of their P4.5-billion budget for their farmer and OFW targets – P2.956 billion for rice farmers and P459 million for OFWs.
Despite the delay, Romero still commended the DA and DOLE.
Romero noted that in the case of domestic formal-sector and informal-sector workers, the DOLE has served almost 84 percent of its 928,382 target beneficiaries.