‘Look into excessive service fees for SAP cash-outs,’ solon tells DSWD

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. asked Wednesday (August 26) the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to look into its partner-financial service providers (FSPs) who are purportedly overcharging the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) beneficiaries for their over-the-counter cash outs. 

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte

He made the call during the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability’s continued probe on the alleged irregularities in the implementation of SAP. 

“May tanong lang ko, meron kasi na nagcha-charge ng P50, ng P120, puwede bang pakilinaw sa ating mga kababayan.  Kunwari ang SAP nila sa Metro Manila, P8,000, alam nyo ba nagcha-charge ang provider ng service fee na P120 or more at tanong ko lang may agreed rate ba kayo, may iba P50, may iba P120, so nabibigla ang ating kababayan. May nag-Facebook sa akin na tanungin ko sa inyo kung alam ba ninyo yun, ano ba ang standard rate, bakit iba iba sa bawat probinsya,” Villafuerte said. 

(I have a question, there are those who charge a service fee of P50, of P120. Could you please clarify this to our countrymen? Like for example, their entitled SAP in Metro Manila is P8,000.  Do you know that some providers charge a service fee of P120 or more and may I ask if you have an agreed rate. There are those who charge P50, while others impose P120, so our people got shocked. Somebody sent me a Facebook message asking me to ask you if you know it.  What is your standard rate, and why it is different in every province?) 

DSWD Undersecretary for Operations Atty. Aimee Torrefranca-Neri explained that the charges are imposed when the beneficiaries decide to cash out through the partner-remittance centers.

"Mr. Chair, if they will use the outlets of the financial service providers (FSPs), and they will transmit their ayuda (cash aid) through online, there are no charges. Mr. Chair, what was included in the multilateral agreement is that the remittance center should not charge more than P50  for every cash out by way of a convenience fee, or a cash out fee, if the beneficiaries decide to cash it out from the remittance centers,” she said 

On June 30, 2020, the DSWD signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and six FSPs identified by the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) for the digital electronic disbursement of cash aid.

The six FSPs are GCash,  RCBC, Robinsons Bank, PayMaya, Starpay, and Unionbank.

Under the MOA, a minimal amount of cash out fee of not more than P50 is deducted from the subsidies of SAP beneficiaries who opt to withdraw from the partner-outlets of the FSPs.

Villafuerte said the DSWD should immediately take action against “abusive” FSPs who overcharged the SAP beneficiaries. 

“While your desire is to partner with partner financial service providers, may nag-o-overcharge (there are some that overcharged).  Dapat either huwag nyo na silang i-accredit (you should not accredit them), dahil nangaabuso (because they are abusing),” he said. 

He said the DSWD should expect that the 90 percent of those who were given the SAP aid will make over-the-counter cash outs. 

“I-assume natin na pag nagbigay tayo ng ayuda (Let us assume that when we give out cash aid), ica-cash out nila yan kasi (they will cash it out) yung iba hindi talaga sanay sa (others are not used to) online transactions, karamihan dyan bibili ng bigas (most of them they will buy rice) at karamihan ng retailer ng bigas ay hindi naman online (and most of the retailer of rice are not online)

"Gusto kong i-point out na maraming nag-o-overcharge na service providers (I would like to point out that many service providers are overcharging). We will provide the DSWD , (but)  huwag na po kayo maghintay sa amin na provide-dan namin kayo (you should not wait for us to provide you with this),  i-check nyo na po (you check it) on the ground,” Villafuerte said.