Duterte backs shift to digital mode in gov’t subsidy programs

President Duterte has backed the digitalization of the government's subsidy programs as proposed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to curb corruption.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on August 24, 2020. (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR. / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his televised address Tuesday, the President recognized the benefits of the shift to digital process, saying the beneficiaries can directly receive the financial aid through electronic payouts. 

Corruption risks will also be reduced since the automated cash distribution minimizes the manual intervention of people, according to the President.

"Ang maganda kasi dito is sa --- iyong wala ng transaction na may tao-tao, puro makina na lang at diretso na sa… Ang pinakaimportante dito is ‘yung paglagay sa --- paghulog sa bangko ng gobyerno diretso ito sa empleyado (The good thing about this is there is no more transaction involving people. It's all machine and directed to the beneficiary. The most important is once the government deposits the money in the bank, the employee will receive it)," Duterte said during a meeting with several Cabinet members in Davao City Monday.

"There is no intermediary and there is no intervention of any kind lalo na tao, diretso sa inyo (it will go directly to the people)...it will lessen corruption," he added. 

Duterte has agreed with Dominguez's recommendations on the transition to electronic distribution of future subsidies to concerned sectors during a meeting with Cabinet members in Davao City Monday.

Dominguez reported to the President about the disbursement of P41 billion under the Small Business Wage Subsidy program (SBWS), sharing the factors that helped made the program "efficient and effective."

The program involved the distribution of a wage subsidy amounting P5,000 to P8,000 for two months to 3.4 million employees in small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It is implemented by the Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Social Security System (SSS).

"Based on the factors and the adoption of the following principles for future subsidy programs. Number one ho, we think all subsidy programs in the future should be digitized. In other words, do through --- through digitalization of all transactions," Dominguez said.

Dominguez also said there must be direct distribution of aid through banks or e-wallet accounts of the intended beneficiaries. 

The wage subsidy program also became successful due to close administration oversight of the critical steps of the program, Dominguez said.

"Ito po mahirap ho po gumawa ng kalokohan dito kung by computer. Talagang walang ano eh --- walang cash na hina-handle, nobody can keep the cash so the intended beneficiaries ho, iyong mga employees ng small companies ay tumanggap ng subsidy (It is hard to commit fraud if done by computer. There is no more cash being handled. Nobody can keep the cash so the intended beneficiaries, the employees of small companies receiving subsidy)," Dominguez said.

He said experts from the private sector may also be tapped to help with the digital shift if needed. "So if you have a problem, bring in the private sector to help you and you can solve it very quickly. But importante ho ‘yung management na everyday you are on top of the situation," he said.