COA finding on ineligible 4Ps recipients unfair, says DSWD
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday stood pat on the success of its Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), saying it was unfair for the Commission on Audit (COA) to have concluded that the program listed “ineligible” beneficiaries.
Acting Social Welfare Secretary Virginia Orogo, in a statement, said the agency was doing its best to ensure that all its beneficiaries were eligible, contrary to a COA finding that the DSWD had failed to help the “poorest of the poor.”
“To declare that the holders of the accounts were not in dire need of assistance and do not really belong to the poorest of the poor is an unfair assumption,” Orogo said.
She made the statement in reaction to a 2017 COA report, made public on Aug. 10, which found that about P1.3 billion of the 4Ps funds in 2017 were left unclaimed.
The 4Ps is a government poverty alleviation program implemented by the DSWD. It is aimed at providing cash assistance to poor families through monthly health and educational subsidies of P500 and P300 for each child in school, respectively.
These grants were paid to beneficiary-families through cash cards used to withdraw the money from automated teller machines or from Land Bank of the Philippines branches.
In its report, state auditors found that the agency had retained a total of P1.3 billion covering 1.9 million individual beneficiary accounts. Accumulated balances ranged from P501 to more than P50,000.
“It bears emphasizing that the cash grants are benefits given to the poorest municipalities, homeless and indigenous people whose economic condition is equal to or below the provincial poverty threshold to augment their … expenses. It is remarkable that the accounts have very significant unwithdrawn amounts,” the COA said.
Orogo, however, clarified that upon validation with the Land Bank, the DSWD confirmed only about 124,845 “idle” accounts with P1.1 billion in unwithdrawn balance.
“The [4Ps] National Program Management Office (NPMO) said that about 95.5 percent [of 1,889,994 accounts] have balances less than P100, which automatically cannot be withdrawn by beneficiaries,” she said.
The DSWD also disputed the COA finding that it only considered accounts to be “inactive” and “nonmoving” if these did not register any withdrawals for more than 180 days.
As such, only about 83,200 accounts with the amount of P708.8 million are considered as nonmoving accounts, according to Orogo.
This represents only 3 percent of the total 2.7 million beneficiaries included in the audit findings, she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.