CIBAC lawmaker: Government must double efforts in distributing SAP funds

Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party List Representative and House Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva calls on the government to double its efforts in the distribution of social amelioration programs (SAP) funds allocated by the national government to sustain around 18 million families in this period of enhanced community quarantine.

“With the first phase of the enhanced community quarantine ending tomorrow (April 30), it is very disappointing and at the same time troubling to know that only around 32% of subsidies to 18 million families are distributed, as contained in the President’s Report yesterday. Speed is the rule of the game in any crisis and pandemic situation. The people are growing hungry and uncomfortable each day. The government must double, even triple, its efforts and create ways to fast track the disbursement and delivery of these funds to its beneficiaries,” exclaims the CIBAC lawmaker.

According to the 5th Report of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee released on Monday, the national government has already released a total amount of Php 96,852,535,050 to fund the distribution of cash subsidies to the following:

(a) 4.4 million Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries;

(b) 90,000 Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) and Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) in the National Capital Region (NCR); and

(c) 13,556,093 recipients of P5,000-8,000 cash assistance all over the country.

However, the report said that only P31,123,298,950 or just 32% of the total budget have been received by the beneficiaries. The bulk of the backlog is on the distribution of P5,000-P8,000 subsidies to almost 13,556,093 family-recipients. Of these more than 13 million beneficiaries, only 2,504,221 were served or with equivalent amount of around P16 billion disbursed, as of April 24, 2020. This is despite the target period of releasing these funds is on April 8 -24, 2020.

One notable observation also in the Report, according to the CIBAC solon, is the slow disbursement of the Financial Subsidy to Rice Farmers program by the Department of Agriculture (DA). Under the program, identified farmer-beneficiaries will be able to receive P5,000 worth of cash aid to assist farmers with effects of the crisis. However, as of April 22, 2020, only P645 million is utilized out of the P3 billion allotted for the program; serving only 53,881 rice farmers out of the target 591,246 beneficiaries.

On other hand, the Deputy Speaker Villanueva also reiterates the call for the concerned agencies to publish online the list of SAP beneficiaries though there is also already an order from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) directing local government units to post in public areas the list of SAP beneficiaries in their jurisdictions which he calls a very laudable and right-timed initiative.

“We are talking here of hefty hundreds of billions of public funds that necessitate careful utilization oversight. So, in the name of transparency and accountability, CIBAC Party List would like to reiterate the calls for the concerned agencies to publish online the list of SAP beneficiaries. For all purposes, accessing the list online is easier and more convenient than going to the place where the list is posted, especially now that going out of homes is being discouraged. Making the list available online will greatly help the public as well as policy makers in verifying and ensuring that SAP funds are received by rightful beneficiaries,” explains the CIBAC solon.

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