Local officials could face charges if cash aid isn't distributed by April 30
MANILA, Philippines – Local officials who fail to fully release emergency subsidies to poor families in their areas are in danger of facing criminal charges, Malacañang announced on Tuesday, April 28.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earlier said it expected to complete distribution of the emergency subsidy program (ESP) for April before the month ends.
However, as of April 28, the DSWD reported that only P46 billion out of the P100 billion earmarked for April had been disbursed to 8.8 million families, that is 48.7% of the 18 million qualified beneficiaries.
The April 28 numbers also show that only P80.5 billion (which includes the released P46 billion) were disbursed to LGUs for families not included in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
"Nag-utos na ang DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), merong 3 araw na lamang mula ngayon ang lahat ng local government units (LGUs) na ipamigay ang [emergency subsidy]. Pagkatapos po, magkakaroon na ng show cause order kung bakit hindi sila dapat panagutin administratively and criminally,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
(The DILG has already ordered that local government units only have 3 days from today to release the [emergency subsidy]. After that, show cause orders will be sent to ask officials to explain why they should not be administratively and criminally charged.)
Reporters brought the concern to the DSWD, noting how local governments are now pressured to release funds when there were delays on the part of the DSWD to release funds as well.
Initially dodging the concern, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao responded on Wednesday, April 29, by reiterating the guidelines of how funds move along the ESP.
“DSWD guidelines state that DSWD will transfer funds to the LGU 24 hours after the LGU’s submission of signed memorandum of agreement and project proposal. Within 24 hours upon the receipt of funds, the LGU will conduct payout within 5 to 7 days. DSWD validation will be conducted after the payout as a measure to expedite the process of distribution of aid,” said Dumlao.
Pressed again by reporters, Dumlao said LGUs are partners in implementing the ESP.
“We are in constant coordination with them so we could expedite the process of distribution. We discuss issues with LGUs and identify measures so we could provide aid to the beneficiaries,” she said.
The DSWD earlier said payouts for the month of May would be delayed if local governments did not submit liquidation reports on time.
Roque also announced that there would be a shift in policy for the ESP distribution for the month of May. Areas under general community quarantine after April 30 would no longer receive subsidies. The DSWD has yet to issue guidelines on this.
The agency is also partnering with the Department of Information and Communications Technology to develop an app that would transfer subsidies electronically.