DSWD awaits economic managers’ guidance on unused P10-B SAP funds

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Tuesday (Sept. 29) that it is keeping in touch with the economic managers to ensure that its untapped P10-billion  Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds will be properly spent and will reach its intended beneficiaries. 

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista maintained that the economic managers, led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III have the last say on the use of the agency’s projected unused SAP funds. 

“Ang huling pagpapasya sa paggamit ng pondong ito ay nasa ating economic managers, kaya  tuloy tuloy ang aming pakikipag-ugnayan sa kanila upang pagusapan kung saan pinaka magiging epektibo ang paggamit ng naturang pondo,” he said in a virtual press brieifing. 

(The last decision on the use of funds is up to the economic managers, that is why we are continuously coordinating with them to tackle where we can effectively use this fund.) 

“Kaisa po kami  ng mga mambabatas na ang pondo ay mapupunta sa mga lubos na maapektuhan ng krisis. Kami po sa ahensya ay nangangako na ginagawa namin ang lahat ng aming makakaya upang magamit ang pondong binibibgay dito at maipamahagi sa mga kababayan natin na higit na ngangailangan,” he assured. 

(We are one with the legislators in ensuring that this fund will be given to those who are most affected by the crisis. We, the agency, promised that we are doing everything we can to use the fund and give it to our countrymen who are most in need,)

Bautista reported that for the second tranche of SAP,  over P83 billion worth of emergency cash subsidies have been distributed to more than 13.9 million beneficiaries. 

According to him, the list of latest recipients of the SAP 2 aid includes  more than 1.3 million beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps);  almost 6 billion low-income, and non-4Ps recipients; almost 3.3 million  “waitlisted”, low-income, and non-4Ps households nationwide; more than 1.8 million “waitlisted” beneficiaries from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) areas; around 169, 939 drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) and the Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) nationwide; and 72, 514 public transport drivers from areas placed under ECQ.

Over the weekend, Bautista said it is awaiting the green light from the economic managers before it implements its Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) program using the projected unused Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds.

He said the decision is up to President Duterte’s economic team if the supposed P10-billion “savings” from SAP funds will be used to provide P15,000 LAG to deserving families as a seed capital for new alternative income-generating activities or certain micro-enterprise ventures as part of SAP’s recovery phase.

Under the program guidelines, the DSWD will provide LAG to a beneficiary-family of its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), provided that at least one family member is an informal economic worker and 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” (neighborhood convenience) store owners.

Bautista noted that during their meeting with the economic managers in August where they presented the status of the SAP 1 and 2 implementation, and discussed about the unutilized funds, the “guidance” they received is that the agency has to request “a change of purpose” so they can use the untapped SAP funds as additional fund for the LAG.

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.

It provides that the LAG may be released to the beneficiary in cash.

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, according to the guidelines.