‘Be more lenient, compassionate to poor families,’ Drilon urges DSWD

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should have been more lenient in giving out cash aid to low-income families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Considering that more than five million Filipinos are now experiencing hunger and that more have become poor due to the pandemic, Drilon said the DSWD should have been compassionate in giving out the government’s cash assistance that was part of a law that Congress passed to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

“Nakakalungkot ito dahil may P10-B na hindi dinistribute ang DSWD. Ang sinasabing rason nadoble raw yung iba. Assuming na totoo iyan, magkano ba iyan? Sabihin natin na nadoble yung 4 million beneficiaries, anim na buwan silang walang kinikita? (This is saddening because there is about P10-billion that was not distributed by the DSWD. The reason they said is because some who were given received a double portion. Assuming it is true, how much was it? Let’s say its four million beneficiaries, but they were not earning for six months!),” Drilon said in an interview over GMANewsTV.

“Dapat naging lenient na kahit papaano. Unang-una, may listahan yung DSWD. Iyan talagang outdated na dahilan sa dumami ang mahihirap dahilan sa COVID-19 ( The DSWD should have been lenient at some point. In the first place, DSWD has a list. That is already outdated primarily because more Filipinos became poor due to COVID-19),” he pointed out.

“Ano kung magkadoble? Malaking per aba iyan? Ang liit niyang ayuda para sa mahihirap…Kung titingnan natin ang sitwasyon natin ngayon na dumami ang mahihirap. Mali po iyang polisiya na iyan na hindi mo i-distribute yung P10-B (What if it doubled? Is that a big amount? That’s a small cash aid for the poor…if you look at our situation now, so many more people became poor. It’s a wrong policy not to distribute the P10-billion),” Drilon insisted.

He said the DSWD should have heeded Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III’s call for the distribution of the funds to stimulate the economy, so people can have money to buy food and pay for other basic necessities.

“Ang sabi nga ni Sec. Dominguez, itong panahong ngayon, kailangan gumastos tayo dahilan sa ‘yung ekonomiya natin bumagsak. Bakit bumagsak? Walang pera ang taumbayan para mamili ng pagkain, maraming nawalan ng trabaho (As Sec. Dominguez has said, we need to spend more these days because our economy has gone down. Why? People have no money to buy food, many people lost their jobs),” the Senate minority chief noted.

“Kaya kailangan gumastos tayo ngayon para ma-stimulate ang ekonomiya natin, (that’s why we need to spend more to stimulate our economy),” he stressed.

He said the DSWD should just let other agencies take the lead in programs that offer livelihood assistance to the poor and not take this mandate upon themselves. The agency, he said, should prioritize the distribution of the P10-billion social amelioration program (SAP).

“These are extra ordinary times…Ang tungkulin ng DSWD ay magbigay ng ayuda sa mga mahihirap na kababayan. Aanhin mo pa yung damo kung patay na ang kabayo, ika nga (DSWD’s mandate is to distribute cash assistance to our poor fellowmen),” he emphasized.