‘Fix flaws in aid distribution’
Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday urged the national government to fix the problems hounding the distribution of cash aid in areas still under lockdowns, including erroneous lists of beneficiaries and overcrowding at distribution venues.
She lamented how the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) had failed to address problems in the cash aid distribution, more than a year since the government started giving out amelioration benefits.
“There has been an entire year to fix the database of cash aid recipients and devise a better aid distribution, but it seems not much progress has been made,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros aired her concern over the rising number of incidents, reported in news and social media, stemming mainly from errors in government’s list of beneficiaries for the cash distribution program.
“Our fellow Filipinos brave the long lines just to get their cash aid, but end up disappointed because many of them simply do not have their names [on]the list,” she said.
The DILG has reported that only around P4.47 billion or 40 percent of allocated funds for cash aid or “ayuda” had been so far distributed in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Hontiveros said the DSWD and the DILG should look closely into all reported problems involving the distribution of cash aid, which was a matter of life and death for many Filipinos during this crisis.
“The aid our countrymen are getting is already meager; government agencies should not waste time to give it to them or worse, land in their officials’ pockets,” she said.
She cited reports of irregularities that have marred the distribution of cash aid such as the inclusion of dead beneficiaries, or minors in the list.
Hontiveros also cited reports of 4Ps beneficiaries who have been deleted from the list, while others were not included simply because they were not registered voters in the locality.
“These stories are way too many to be mere fabrications and should be fully investigated,” she said.
Due to erroneous list of beneficiaries and other issues, aid distribution venues in several areas have become crowded with applicants, and have turned the activity into potential “superspreaders” for COVID-19, Hontiveros said.
“This is very alarming, because many of those who join the queues and squeeze themselves into the crowds to get their cash aid are senior citizens who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19,” she said.
The senator urged the DSWD and the DILG to create a unified and comprehensive database of cash aid recipients from the various existing lists of aid beneficiaries held by the DSWD and local governments.
To do this, the DSWD must complete its “poverty survey” to determine the true number and identities of poor Filipinos who need financial assistance, Hontiveros said.
She urged the DSWD and the DILG to clean up errors in government’s list of aid beneficiaries by removing dead, fictitious or unqualified persons. INQ
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