With reports coming out about some beneficiaries receiving COVID-19 emergency financial assistance multiple times, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday, May 20, asked concerned government agencies about the measures they have been implementing to address the issue.
The government presently provides various cash assistance through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program; the Small Business Wage Subsidy program for employees of micro, small and medium enterprises of Department of Finance through the Social Security System; or the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program.
In a hearing of the Senate acting as the Committee of the Whole with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, Go inquired on what steps the DSWD has undertaken to prevent the distribution of assistance to the same beneficiary multiple times.
“Ano po ang mga ginagawang hakbang ng DSWD at iba pang ahensya para hindi na maulit itong duplikasyon? … (I)mportante mapunta talaga sa mahirap, poorest of the poor, mga nangangailangan,” he said.
Go cited the possibility of some individuals receiving assistance multiple times, considering that receipt of assistance under one program bars the beneficiary from receiving further from the other programs.
Go then suggested the creation of an online portal containing the lists of eligible household beneficiaries of the various government assistance for purposes of transparency.
“Para na rin po malaman sino ba talaga ang mga qualified at para maiwasan na magkadoble-doble po ang nare-receive na subsidy,” Go mentioned.
In response to Go, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that there is a data-sharing agreement between DSWD, Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of the Executive Secretary and DOLE to avoid such duplication. Senate President Vicente Sotto III also suggested that the names of beneficiaries be posted on a website for greater transparency.
“Every time we pay somebody, agad binibigyan ang DSWD ng listahan para hindi na mabigyan ulit,” Bello said.
Go commended the departments for their efforts but urged them further to make sure that the duplication of assistance does not happen again. He also stressed the need for the country to finally implement the Philippine Identification System which will greatly help the government’s efforts in distributing assistance to all intended beneficiaries during these times.
“Sa tingin ko, panahon na po para sa National ID system,” Go said. “Dahil hirap po tayo ngayon, ang daming dumodoble, ang daming hindi nakatatanggap (ng ayuda).”
Meanwhile, Go commended those individuals who returned COVID-19 emergency financial aid that they have received for having previously received assistance through another program, saying that honesty and kindheartedness are alive amid the pandemic.
“Kino-commend ko po ang mga Pilipino na very honest na binabalik nila ang natatanggap nilang doble,” Go said.
Go cited that these programs were created to assist identified workers from specified sectors who have been adversely affected by the pandemic — from the poorest of the poor, vulnerable groups, displaced workers, and employees of micro, small and medium enterprises.
“For every honest Filipino, another Filipino family which needs help is saved. Kaya kung nakatanggap po kayo ng dobleng ayuda, pakiusap ko lang po na ibalik ninyo ang sobra o nadoble. Honesty will go a long way. The more we help each other, the faster we will overcome this crisis caused by COVID-19” Go said in past statements.
He also urged agencies to account for every peso distributed and spent, adding that utmost transparency is important especially now that the government is prioritizing the distribution of various forms of assistance to affected Filipinos.
“Sa panahon ngayon, tanging konsensya talaga ang gabay ng lahat para walang masayang sa kaban ng bayan. Gawin po natin ang tama at siguraduhing matulungan lahat ng nangangailangan. In this time of crisis, every peso must be accounted for,” Go said previously.