While the intention may be good, let us first take a serious look at the situation. Since the Department of Budget and Management already said that the government coffers have dried up, hence funds are no longer available, the bigger question remains: Can we still afford more borrowings intended for dole-outs instead of for other productive purposes to boost our economy? The last thing we need is ending up in a ‘Sisyphean’ situation.
Our best option is to have a sense of urgency and allow the private sector more participation with better flexibility in the vaccination program – true to the government’s ‘whole-of-nation approach’ theme, which is turning out to be mere platitude and lip service.
Then, if we really need to pass Bayanihan 3, the national and local governments must first get their act together to update the data on the intended recipients of the social amelioration program since what the Department of Social Welfare and Development is using is a five-year-old list that is already out of date – hence real-time needs and priorities are not being properly addressed, not to mention the corruption involved in the distribution of such dole-outs because of such a defective list.
It is relatively easy to pass a law creating new departments. But would it be feasible, and will there be proper funding for it? The Department of Budget and Management says at least P1.5 billion is needed to set up the department. That does not yet include added salaries, capital outlay like office facilities, furniture, vehicles, MOOE, and CIF.
During the first public hearing last January, no less than the stakeholders who served as resource persons also cited concerns about creating a new department for disaster and risk reduction:
First, there is a policy direction for right-sizing the bureaucracy that is already bloated.
Second, the implementation especially of recovery and rehabilitation will be carried out not by the proposed new department but by existing agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Health.
Third, we can see that the newly created departments like the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development cannot be properly funded, or at least are not given the appropriate funding to work properly.
Having said that, a dedicated office under the Office of the President with a Cabinet rank and full authority to mobilize the concerned government agencies before, during and after calamities both natural and man-made – from policy-making and planning all the way to implementation – would do the job with much less funding and minimum number of staff and personnel. In contrast, a council-type organization like the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has a very limited capability mainly because it is merely coordinative.
I would have manifested that hundreds of thousands of mouths are still waiting to be fed just to survive, and that the agency should at least mind those poor souls.
I would have insisted that the DSWD utilize the P10 billion for distribution, instead of prematurely declaring the same as “savings” after it scaled down the number of cash aid beneficiaries by four million households.
In actual fact, I sent an official letter to DSWD Sec. Rolando Bautista more than a week ago on behalf of a listed beneficiary family who I do not even know or have met, that has been following up to receive their SAP subsidy but to no avail. Not being arrogant or trying to throw my weight around, I have not even received a “yes” or “no” response even from a clerk of DSWD.
If this is not failure of planning, preparation, coordination and implementation, I do not know how to describe it.
In an interview on Abante Radyo Tabloidista, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* ABS-CBN franchise [30:25]
* Fake news vs Anti-Terrorism Law [37:22]
* Cops accused of violating the law [16:07]
* Dealing with COVID at home [21:20]
* DOH issues in handling COVID pandemic [24:05]
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* sufficiency of funds for 2nd tranche of social amelioration [0:16]
* 18M beneficiary families should get 2 months’ amelioration [1:07]
* possible supplemental budget [13:02]
* delay of funds due to ‘incompetence’ of some mayors, barangay heads [18:11]
* alleged ‘doble presyo’ of PPEs purchased by DOH, and related issues [20:18]
Under the present setup of the P200-billion cash aid program for poor families, local government units should be made to submit their data, subject to vetting by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other concerned national agencies.
This is a recurring mistake: What we are implementing now is a top-down mode of listing and distribution of funds to recipient families instead of a bottom-up approach, hence there is an obvious disconnect between the national government and the needs and priorities of the rightful recipients.
More than the central government, the LGUs have a better grasp of their constituents’ needs through their community-based surveys being undertaken periodically.
As I post this, we have been receiving numerous complaints of incorrect data that do not tally with the actual number and identities of persons in need on the ground. Mayors are complaining that they bear the brunt of the blame and protests from their constituents because of too much centralization, further compounded by the President’s recent pronouncements that there are enough funds to cover all the 18 million families in compliance with the Bayanihan Act.
Unless immediate adjustments are made by the DSWD and other support agencies, I’m afraid the very purpose of the Social Amelioration Program and the disbursement of the P200 billion will not be accomplished. Worse, and I sincerely hope not, a potential social problem might occur due to the loss of income brought about by a prolonged business inactivity and work stoppage affecting a large segment of our labor force particularly the daily wage earners.
We should all learn from Albert Einstein when he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Sen. Lacson, whose resolution for a review of RA 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010) was one of the grounds of the hearing, stressed the need for a separate agency to focus on dealing with disasters.
“This is an opportune time (to review the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, because) the Philippines is third most risky in terms of disasters. It’s been eight years (since the law was passed). We have not reviewed (the law) as mandated under Republic Act 10121.”
“Even before I left the OPARR, ito ang naiwanan kong recommendation kay then President Aquino noon: It’s about time we created a separate agency even under the Office of the President para talagang may lead agency. Ngayon medyo sabog eh. Mahirap ang council-type na coordinative, tapos naka-integrate lang, puro monitoring ang mangyayari. There must be a separate lead agency who will take care and assume responsibility.”