Senators hit as ‘almost criminal’ DSWD’s over P83B unspent funds
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has over P83 billion in unspent funds from allocations in previous budgets and the two Bayanihan laws.
Senators learned this Tuesday, during the plenary debates on the proposed 2021 national budget of the social welfare agency.
“This is almost criminal. Hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ito. Mayroon tayong pera pero hindi natin ibinibigay sa nangangailangan. Wala na tayong mukhang maihaharap sa taumbayan, may pera tayo pero ayaw nating gumawa ng proyekto,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
(This is almost criminal. This cannot continue. We have money but we have not released it to those who need it. We can no longer face our fellow Filipinos, we have the money but we’re not creating needed programs.)
“There are 10 million ang nawalan ng trabaho, [seven] million nakaranas ng gutom sa nakaranag tatlong buwan. Yet, mayroon tayong P83 billion unexpended sums in the bank accounts of the DSWD,” he added.
(There are 10 million who lost their jobs, seven million experienced hunger in the last three months. Yet, we have this P83 billion unexpended sums in the bank accounts of the DSWD.)
Before this, Senator Imee Marcos, who defended DSWD’s 2021 budget, told her colleagues that there are more than P83 billion of still unexpended funds under the agency.
“There is P83 billion unexpended from the past budgets that were given to DSWD. Due to various reasons, due to difficulty in disbursing during the period of COVID-19, during the repeated typhoons, they still remain in the coffers of the department,” she said.
According to Marcos, the DSWD has only spent 53.62 percent of its 2020 budget, leaving it with P75 billion unspent funds.
In 2019, the DSWD was not able to spend P1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, for the two Bayanihan laws—the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act—a total of P6.7 billion remains unobligated.
Drilon said the P83 billion should be allocated for assistance to those affected by both the pandemic and the recent calamities that struck the country.
“P83 billion [is] not being disbursed in the face of all of these difficulties. Not to distribute P83 billion to our affected countrymen is almost criminal. I say that with emphasis,” he stressed.
Senator Francis Pangilinan then suggested the filing of a Senate resolution that would urge the DSWD to fast-track the release of the funds remaining in its coffers.
Senators agreed with the suggestion of Pangilinan, whose office was tasked to draft the resolution so that it can be formally adopted in plenary.