By Ben Rosario
A congressional inquiry into the distribution of financial assistance under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) will zero in on determining “a better, smoother system” of implementing the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said there is no other objective but to ensure that all Filipinos qualified to receive the cash doleout from the government will get their share and receive it swiftly.
Cayetano made this assurance as the House Committees on Good Government and Public Accountability and on Public Accounts, headed by Reps. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (NP, Bulacan) and Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan), respectively, prepare to launch the congressional inquiry starting Monday.
“This is not to point fingers, but to find a better way of delivering the social amelioration and other benefits to our people,” Cayetano stressed.
“People are tired of hearing statements like ‘The national ID should have been fully implemented for faster aid distribution,’ or ‘The SAC (social amelioration card) forms should have been distributed house-to-house’,” he said.
The House official expressed serious concern over the system of identifying beneficiaries and distribution that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) followed in implementing the SAP.
Cayetano said he is interested in hearing the DSWD’s plans should a lockdown be imposed again in order to address the COVID-19 threat to public health.
“But that was the intention in giving the SAC forms house-to-house, isn’t it? So, all of these issues have to be ventilated in the inquiry for the purpose of coming up with a better system,” he stressed.
He recalled that before Congress approved the Bayanihan Law last March 23, agencies promised to distribute the first tranche of P100 billion “in 10 days.”
“But what happened? The distribution for April was finished in May. They told us that P200 billion was needed to help 18 million poor and near-poor families: P100 billion for April and P100 billion for May,” Cayetano said.
He reminded officials of President Duterte’s mantra: “Don’t let the people wait, deliver service promptly.”
“He always tells us: No red tape, no corruption,” he said.
Cayetano thanked his colleagues and other officials “who took the extra mile and really showed their leadership during this time of pandemic.”
He told SAP implementers: “We need to work together. We are your allies, we will work with you. But let me also make it clear: Do not confuse our kindness with weakness.”