A lawmaker urged the government on Friday to purge the list of beneficiaries for its cash dole program, to exclude those who did not withdraw the funds waiting for them at the Land Bank of the Philippines.
At the same time, Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to file charges against any personnel found to be defrauding the government of funds from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or who did not make sure the “4Ps database has integrity and the system works as it should.”
Dy’s statement came after the Commission on Audit reported P10.76 billion in an unliquidated balance of fund transfers to the LandBank; P5.385 billion in unclaimed cash grants for over-the-counter payments (2013 to 2017); P1.323 billion in account balances not withdrawn; and P1.2 billion in 1.89 million accounts with outstanding balances.
Dy said P15 billion in unliquidated or unclaimed grants if found to be part of a systematic scheme to siphon away government funds, would be plunder.
“I will give the DSWD time to conduct its investigation. If after some reasonable time I am not satisfied with the results, the DSWD can expect a full-scale congressional investigation,” she said.
The DSWD must comply with the guidance of CoA to remit to the National Treasury all unclaimed funds so that they are not used for other purposes.
The 4Ps database of beneficiaries must be continually audited to weed out ghost beneficiaries and beneficiaries the DSWD has lost track of, or are no longer qualified to receive the cash grants but are still in the system because of processing time lags, she said.
Earlier, the House approved on second reading a bill that would institutionalize the 4Ps cash dole.
House Bill 7773 seeks “to end the cycle of inter-generational poverty” and improve the delivery of education, health, and nutrition to the poor.
The 4Ps bill also seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, empower women and girls and achieve gender equality, and capacitate those who cannot provide for themselves so that they become productive and healthy members of society.
The 4Ps was introduced during the Arroyo administration and was carried over by the Aquino administration and continues up to the present.
HB 7773 defines the poor as those households whose income falls below the poverty threshold as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority and who cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing, and other amenities.
The program will be implemented until it has covered 60 percent of the total number of extremely poor households in the country, as may be determined by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Under the measure, qualified households will be selected by the DSWD on a nationwide basis through a standardized targeting system. The DSWD is also mandated to conduct a revalidation of targeting of beneficiaries every three years.
Each qualified household-beneficiary will be entitled to a lump-sum conditional cash transfer equivalent to P2,200 each month for expenses on health, nutrition, and education.
In sum, a household-beneficiary may receive up to P26,400 in a year, for a maximum of five years.
The measure also allows for loan assistance if the beneficiary has successfully completed the required skills training.
In exchange, beneficiaries’ children up to five years must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccinations, minors up to 18 years old must avail of de-worming pills at least twice a year, and pregnant women must avail of pre- and post-natal care and give birth with the assistance of a skilled or trained health care professional in a health facility.
The measure also requires that children 3 to 4 years of age must attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85 percent of the time, while children from 5 to 18 must attend elementary or secondary classes at least 85 percent of the time.