SAP funds will be given to qualified beneficiaries up to the last centavo —DSWD

After being called out for its supposed P10-billion “savings” from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) vowed Thursday that the last centavo intended for emergency cash subsidy will be given to the rightful beneficiary. 

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista assured the public the proper and transparent distribution of aid to SAP beneficiaries, even as the agency recorded over 200,000 ineligible recipients and over 1.1 million duplicate beneficiaries.

"Ang DSWD ay isang ahensya na nagsusulong ng transparency at accountability. Tayo po ay committed na gamitin ang pondo ng Social Amelioration Program hanggang sa huling sentimo para sa mga kababayan na naapektuhan ng pandemya,” he said in a virtual press briefing.

(The DSWD is one agency that is pushing for transparency and accountability. We are committed to use the funds of the Social Amelioration Program until the last centavo for our countrymen who are affected by the pandemic.)

So far, the DSWD has distributed P83.1 billion worth of SAP 2 aid to around 13, 907, 374 SAP 2 beneficiaries. 

He even clarified that they have not declared any savings since the second tranche distribution of SAP is still under way. 

Bautista explained that there were P10-billion untapped SAP funds because of the reduction in number of SAP 2 beneficiaries from 17 million to 14.1 million. He even noted that the DSWD “recalibrated” the target number of beneficiaries  following the directive of President Duterte to include 5 million wait-listed beneficiaries for the second tranche. 

According to him, the number of SAP 2 beneficiaries has been trimmed down to 14.1 million due to the local government units’  submission of  a list of 3.2 million “wait-listed” beneficiaries out of the 5 million targeted beneficiaries, and the discovery of more than 200,000 ineligible beneficiaries and over 1.1 million duplicate beneficiaries or those who received cash assistance from other government agencies implementing SAP.

"Una sa lahat, wala po tayong idineklara na savings dahil patuloy pa po ang distribution ng ating Social Amelioration Program. Mayroon po tayong nakikita na available funds na hindi magagamit sa emergency subsidy dahil nagkaroon ng kabawasan sa bilang ng mga beneficiaries,” Bautista said. 

(First of all, we have not declared any savings because the distribution of SAP continues. We are seeing available funds, untapped for the emergency subsidy because of the reduction in the number of beneficiaries.) 

DSWD had declared that for the second tranche, there are around 14,117,957 beneficiaries. These include 1.3 million 4Ps beneficiaries in ECQ areas; 7.2 million non-4Ps beneficiaries in ECQ areas from May 1 to 15; 3.2 million wait-listed families nationwide who did not receive the first tranche; and 2.1 million wait-listed families  in ECQ areas from May 1 to 15.

Bautista noted that during their meeting with the economic managers last August, they presented the status of the SAP 1 and 2 implementation, and they discussed about the unutilized funds. 

“Nakuha namin na guidance ay magrequest ng change of purpose upang magamit na karagdagang pondo para sa Livelihood Assistance Grant o LAG na parte ng recovery phase ng SAP,” he said. 

(The guidance that we received is that we have to request a change of purpose so we can use it as additional fund for the Livelihood Assistance Grant or LAG which is part of the recovery phase of SAP.)

He said the P15,000 LAG program seeks to grant assistance to low-income families in the informal sector whose livelihood,  occupation, or work, has been affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

During a budget briefing at the Senate, DSWD director Resty Macuto bared that the P15,000 assistance will be extended to informal vendors and sari-sari store owners.

In April, Bautista assured the public that during the "recovery stage",  the DSWD will provide LAG to a beneficiary-family of its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). 

Under the Department's guidelines, the DSWD shall assess the eligibility of the families and only those families found eligible by the agency shall be included in the list of families to be granted by LAG. 

It provides that those families that received the emergency subsidy program in the maximum amount allowed under Republic Act No. 11469 or the "Bayanihan to Heal As Once Act"  may still be eligible for LAG. 

"The maximum amount of LAG per eligible family shall not exceed P15,000, and shall be provided once," the guidelines said. 

According to the omnibus guidelines, the LAG may be released to the beneficiary,  either in cash. 

It provides that the release of LAG can be through door-to-door or on a designated site of pay-out, or through any mode that is most convenient and safe for both the staff and beneficiaries.