Mahigit isang taon na ang nakakalipas. Bakit wala pa ring aksyon?
Kinuwestyon ni Senador Ping Lacson ang kawalan ng aksyon sa isyu ng pasweldo sa Department of Social Welfare and Development sa Region 11, kung saan ang halagang P1 milyon na nakalaan para sa employees’ travel allowance (TEV) ay inilipat umano sa account ng isang administrative assistant, at pinagtakpan ito ng isang opisyal.
“We should not wait for the other cases. This is pretty solid. There were victims. By now, one year later, dapat nasa Ombudsman na siguro ito. Kung now wala pang progress, we cannot expect any more action on this matter,” ani Lacson sa deliberasyon ng 2022 badyet ng DSWD.
It’s been more than a year. Why is there still no action on it?
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson thus questioned the lack of progress in a payroll row at the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 11, where P1 million in employees’ travel allowance (TEV) was allegedly diverted to the account of an administrative assistant, and an official tried to cover up the mess.
“We should not wait for the other cases. This is pretty solid. There were victims. By now, one year later, dapat nasa Ombudsman na siguro ito. Kung now wala pang progress, we cannot expect any more action on this matter (We should not wait for other cases. This is pretty solid. There were victims. But it’s been one year, the case should have been before the Ombudsman. But up to now there seems to be no progress. We cannot expect any more action on this matter),” Lacson said at the deliberation on the 2022 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
From merely doling out cash to providing sustainable livelihood and employment opportunities.
This is the reinvention of social welfare programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson envisions under his administration, should he win the presidential election in 2022.
“We must invest in our human capital. It is high time that we reinvent the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) with the overarching principle that every Filipino should bridge the poverty line with a sustainable livelihood or employment opportunities,” Lacson said before the Rotary Club of Manila.
Hinimok ni Senador Ping Lacson nitong Lunes ang Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) na gawing prayoridad ang mga mahihirap na bayan – o mga fifth- at sixth-class municipalities – sa kanilang Technical Assistance and Resource Augmentation (TARA) program.
Para kay Lacson, makakatulong ito para masiguro na nagagamit nang maayos ng DSWD ang pondo para sa programang TARA at talagang nakikinabang dito ang mga lokal na pamahalaan na kailangan ng tulong.
“One criterion na naisip ko, i-prioritize siguro fifth and sixth-class municipalities kesa first class municipalities, kasi hindi na siguro kailangan, technically capacitated na sila,” ani Lacson sa pagdinig ng Senado sa badyet ng DSWD para sa 2022.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Monday urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to prioritize fifth- and sixth-class municipalities in its Technical Assistance and Resource Augmentation (TARA) program.
Lacson said this would help ensure that the DSWD is able to maximize its funds for the program while benefiting the local government units that need assistance most.
“One criterion na naisip ko, i-prioritize siguro fifth- and sixth-class municipalities kesa first-class municipalities, kasi hindi na siguro kailangan, technically capacitated na sila (One criterion I can think of is to prioritize assistance to the fifth and sixth-class municipalities. First-class municipalities likely do not need the assistance as much as they are already technically capacitated),” he said at the Senate hearing on the DSWD’s budget for 2022.
Paano nasabi ng Department of Social Welfare and Development na mayroon silang 94-percent physical accomplishment sa pamamahagi ng pondo mula sa Social Amelioration Program (SAP), kung 80 porsyento lamang ang kanilang nailabas na pondo?
Ito ang binigyang diin ni Senador Panfilo Lacson nitong Lunes sa kanyang interpelasyon sa panukalang badyet ng DSWD para sa taong 2022 na umaabot sa P191.4 bilyon.
“Something doesn’t add up. The DSWD’s latest data showed that the agency was able to distribute SAP to 717,372 out of 761,259 target beneficiary families. That would constitute 94.23-percent accomplishment as of Aug. 31, 2021,” ani Lacson.
How could the Department of Social Welfare and Development claim a 94-percent physical accomplishment of its distribution of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) funds, when it has disbursed only 80 percent of the funds?
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson raised this question Monday as he interpellated the DSWD on its proposed P191.4-billion budget for 2022.
“Something doesn’t add up. The DSWD’s latest data showed that the agency was able to distribute SAP to 717,372 out of 761,259 target beneficiary families. That would constitute 94.23-percent accomplishment as of Aug. 31, 2021,” Lacson said.
Without details backed by documents or at least sworn statements executed by his witnesses, if any, there may not be sufficient basis for the Senate to conduct a hearing although the Blue Ribbon Committee is allowed to conduct investigation in aid of legislation even without referral.
It now behooves the Chairman to make the call on the issue at hand.
Meantime, the onus is on Sen. Pacquiao at the very least to show some specifics in support of his allegations, which by its nature are serious, not to mention sensitive.
It can better serve the purpose of the expose if relevant documents that he said he has would be submitted to the Senate President or the Blue Ribbon Committee, so we can assess what next move to take on the issues that he presented in yesterday’s virtual press conference.
Mas masigasig pang hakbang ng mga vaccination czar at pagbibigay kalayaan sa mga nangangasiwa at nagpapatupad ng pagbabakuna na gumamit ng epektibong sistema ang susi para maging matagumpay ang misyon ng pamahalaan na herd immunity laban sa COVID-19.
Isiniwalat ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson bilang payo sa mga awtoridad matapos ang pinakahuling pagpupulong sa pagitan ng ilang senador na kinabibilangan niya, Senate President Vicente Sotto III at Senador Ronald Dela Rosa; at ni testing czar Vivencio Dizon at contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
“We advised them to be more assertive. Senate President Sotto even said that if they are sure they are right and their ‘superiors’ are wrong, they can ‘defy’ them. Also, it is the people on the ground such as mayors who can appreciate the situation better. So it is important that they be given flexibility and more autonomy in the implementation of the vaccination program,” banggit ni Lacson sa panayam sa kanya ng CNN Philippines.
Isiniwalat din ni Lacson na magdadaos ang Senado ng Committee of the Whole hearing sa Martes, Hunyo 15, alas-10 ng umaga, bilang bahagi ng oversight function nito para alamin kung paano ginamit ng pamahalaan ang P82.5 bilyon na inilaan sa programa sa pagbabakuna, at mga kaakibat na paraan at sistema.
More assertiveness from the country’s vaccination czars and more flexibility for implementers and decision-makers on the ground will be crucial to the success of the government’s efforts to accelerate its COVID-19 vaccination drive and achieve herd immunity quickly, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said.
Lacson stressed this following a meeting Thursday night between him, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa on one hand, and testing czar Vivencio Dizon and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on the other.
He also said the Senate will conduct a Committee of the Whole hearing on Tuesday, June 15, to exercise its oversight function on the government’s utilization of its P82.5-billion for the vaccination program and to evaluate the protocols and guidelines used by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The hearing is initially scheduled at 10 a.m.
“We advised them to be more assertive. Senate President Sotto even said that if they are sure they are right and their ‘superiors’ are wrong, they can ‘defy’ them. Also, it is the people on the ground such as mayors who can appreciate the situation better. So it is important that they be given flexibility and more autonomy in the implementation of the vaccination program,” Lacson said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
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.”