‘NO FAVORITISM’: DSWD to probe officials giving SAP subsidy to unqualified beneficiaries

Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator Jofel Boso (right) assists one of the SAP beneficiaries at Brgy. Dawis Sur in Zarraga, Iloilo on April 16, 2020. (Photo from DSWD-Western Visayas FB page)

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it would investigate officials who knowingly give emergency subsidy to ineligible beneficiaries.

In a virtual press conference on Friday, DSWD Assistant Secretary for Specialized Programs Rhea Peñaflor answered queries relative to complaints against officials who allegedly select beneficiaries of the Special Amelioration Program (SAP) without taking into consideration their economic capability.

SAP is the government’s financial assistance to vulnerable sectors affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under the Omnibus guidelines on SAP implementation, “in case the paid beneficiary is ineligible or overqualified, the DSWD will inform the local government unit within 72 hours from discovery.”

Peñaflor urged the public to report unqualified persons who received the SAP grant.

Only persons in the low income bracket can receive the government aid.

Peñaflor said the “LGU officials who will give the cash assistance to ineligible beneficiaries will be subjected to investigation by competent authorities for proper determination for administrative, civil and/or criminal liability including the refund of the subsidy improperly provided as the case may be.”

She assured that the law will be enforced.

In the case of duplication, a SAP beneficiary will be disqualified in the next tranche of the aid release.

Duplication happens when a member of the family received SAP subsidy while another member got assistance either from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) or the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture has implemented the Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat Kontra sa COVID-19 or ALPAS COVID.

DOLE has COVID-19 Adjustment Measure Program (CAMP) and DOLE-AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong program), which is intended for land-based and sea-based overseas workers.

As of April 17, Peñaflor reported that 131 of the 133, or 98 percent of LGUs in Western Visayas, have received their SAP funds totaling P6,817,302,000.

During Friday’s virtual press con, DSWD-6 regional director Ma. Evelyn Macapobre commended LGUs which already released the SAP funds.

These LGUs are Belison, Libertad, Valderrama, Anini-y, and Tobias Fornier in Antique; Zarraga, Pototan, Ajuy, New Lucena, San Miguel, Passi City in Iloilo province; and Iloilo City.

Hinoba-an, Don Salvador Benedicto, Candoni, EB Magalona, Manapla, Sipalay City, and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental also started the pay out.

Dumarao in Capiz also released the SAP grant.

“Your quick action means that you are listening to the needs of your people and you are urgently answering the needs of the low-income families. We salute all of you for working hard to provide assistance to those who need help the most,” Macapobre said.

She also acknowledged that local Social Welfare and Development Offices in LGUs “are facing a challenging time now that they have to assess and prioritize the neediest families who are qualified for SAP.”

“We reiterate that even as you prepare and conduct the payout, protection of health should never be compromised,” Macapobre said while reminding them to ensure that they also take care of their health by wearing masks, observing stringent social distancing and making available water and soap for hand washing.

“We salute the contribution of our LSWDOs, local chief exec and partners in the barangays in rolling out this program. While many have to stay home to be protected from COVID-19, these people are working hard to serve the low-income families in their areas,” Macapobre said.