ADMINISTRATION Senator Christopher Go pressed Thursday for a full disclosure of the list of beneficiaries of the Duterte government’s assistance program for Covid-19 patients in order to avoid duplication.
He reminded concerned agencies to “be transparent and accountable to the public” by disclosing the recipients of Covid-19 assistance programs.
Go cited reports that some beneficiaries were receiving Covid-19 emergency financial assistance “multiple times,” prompting him to ask concerned government agencies about the measures they have taken to address the issue.
He noted that the Duterte administration has been providing various forms of cash aid through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP); the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SWBS) program for employees of micro, small and medium enterprises of the Department of Finance through the Social Security System; or the Department of Labor and Employment’s Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).
At the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing to get updates from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Go sought updates on steps taken by the DSWD to prevent the distribution of assistance to the same beneficiary multiple times. “What steps are DSWD and other agencies taking to avoid a repeat of this duplication?” he asked, stressing that it is vital to ensure the assistance reaches “the poorest of the poor who need it most.”
He suggested the creation of an online portal containing the lists of eligible household beneficiaries of the various forms of assistance for purposes of transparency. “So we can know who are really qualified and so as to avoid duplications in the receipt of subsidy,” he added, in a mix of English and Filipino.
Responding to these concerns, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III reported there is a data-sharing agreement among the DSWD, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of the Executive Secretary and the DOLE to avoid such duplication.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggested that the beneficiaries’ names be posted on a website for greater transparency.
In response, Bello gave assurances that “every time we pay somebody, the DSWD immediately is given a list so the same person does not get aid again.”
Go then commended the departments involved for their efforts even as he urged them to double check that the duplication of assistance does not happen again.
At the same time, he stressed the need for the country to finally implement the Philippine Identification System seen to help the government’s efforts in distributing assistance to all intended beneficiaries during these times. “I think it’s time to have the National ID system. Because as it is, we are having a hard time now, there are duplications, yet there are those who are not getting aid.”
Image credits: AP