Answer Pacquiao’s corruption claims on SAP fund distribution, Bayan tells DSWD
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should answer corruption allegations on the distribution of the social amelioration program (SAP) funds, according to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
This while the group questioned the selection of Starpay for the delivery of the cash aid to qualified beneficiaries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said the DSWD should explain the criteria it used for choosing Starpay as well as reveal the Electronic Money Issuer (EMI) and remittance agent’s “actual performance” in the SAP funds distribution, stressing that Starpay appears to be lacking a clear track record and not as established as other EMIs.
“Madaming reklamo sa comments section ng Starpay. Walang malinaw na track record ang app at hindi kasing established ng ibang electronic money issuer. Kaya talagang palaisipan kung bakit kasama ito sa mga napili ng DSWD bilang tagapamahagi ng SAP,” Reyes said in a statement.
(There are a lot of complaints in the comments section of Starpay. The app has no clear track record and is not as established as other electronic money issuers. That’s why it is a big question why it was even included among the apps picked by DSWD to distribute the SAP.)
“Kaya marapat sagutin ng DSWD ang mga tanong na ito: Anong criteria ang ginamit ng DSWD para mapabilang ang Starpay sa mga namamahagi ng SAP gayong hindi sya kilala, at hindi mahusay ang track record at user ratings nya? Ano ang naging actual performance ng Starpay sa actual na pamamahagi ng SAP?” he asked.
(That’s why the DSWD must answer these questions. What criteria did DSWD use to include Starpay in the SAP distribution, considering that they are not well-known, and do not carry a good track record and user rating? What is the actual performance of Starpay in distributing the SAP?)
Further, Reyes said a breakdown of target recipients using Starpay, the actual disbursement, along with failed disbursement due to the application’s technical problems, should be presented to the public.
He expressed doubts on DSWD’s decision to tap Starpay’s services when other more known and tested EMIs and remittance agents or payment apps exist.
“Bago ang expose ni Sen. Manny Pacquiao, bihira ang nakakakilala sa Starpay app. Kapag tinignan mo ang Google Playstore at Apple Store, napakababa ng user rating ng app. Nasa 2.5 stars lang ang rating nito sa Playstore out of 4k reviews, at meron lamang mahigit 500k downloads,” Reyes noted.
(Before Senator Manny Pacquiao’s exposé, only a few knew about the Starpay app. If you take a look at the Google Playstore and Apple Store, it has a low user rating of 2.5 stars for Playstore out of over 4,000 reviews. It also has only around 500,000 downloads.)
“Mababa ito kumpara sa ratings ng mas established na payment apps o electronic money issuer tulad ng GCash, na may 4.4 stars out of 620k reviews and more than 10 million downloads, at Paymaya, na may 4.7 stars out of 419k reviews at mahigit 10 million downloads din,” he added.
(It is lower compared to the ratings of more established payment apps or electronic money issuers like GCash, which has 4.4 stars out of 620,000 reviews and more than 10 million downloads, or PayMaya, which has 4.7 stars out of 419,00 reviews and over 10 million downloads also.)
Last July 3, Pacquiao held a press conference to answer President Rodrigo Duterte’s dare for him to name government agencies where corruption allegedly persists. During this event, the world boxing start-turned-lawmaker said that around P10 billion SAP funds downloaded to Starpay have gone missing.
According to him, the e-wallet application failed to distribute P10.4 billion of SAP funds entrusted to it despite marking payouts as completed.
Pacquiao likewise pointed out that Starpay’s build-up capital back then was just P62,000, which was relatively lower than industry competitors.
The amount missing was derived from data that allegedly shows only 500,000 of the 1.8 million beneficiaries that were supposed to receive the cash aid through Starpay got the money. The remaining 1.3 million, the senator said, did not receive the payouts.
Pacquiao, an ally and fellow official of the ruling political party PDP-Laban, recently engaged in a verbal tussle that stemmed from the senator’s earlier pronouncements that corruption in government remains under Duterte’s watch.
The President then challenged Pacquiao to name corrupt government agencies, to which the senator mentioned the Department of Health, and eventually, the Department of Energy and DSWD.
In a statement shortly after Pacquiao unleashed his allegations, the DSWD said it is ready to face investigations should they be required to explain the issues raised by the senator.
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