The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue to improve the current streamlining of documentary requirements for beneficiaries of its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.
“The Management acknowledges that leniency has been extended to applicants of the AICS program in isolated transactions due to urgent need of assistance,” Asst. Secretary Romel Lopez said in response to the Commission on Audit (COA) finding on the incomplete or deficient documentation in the disbursement of Php467.4 million worth of AICS for the year 2022.
“With this, the Management will also continue to improve the streamlining of the documentary requirements of the AICS program,” Asst. Sec Lopez, who is also the DSWD spokesperson, said on Thursday (Aug. 17).
DSWD’s AICS program seeks to provide various forms of aid to vulnerable sectors that include transportation, medical, burial, and educational assistance, among others.
The primary document required to apply for the AICS program is the General Intake Sheet (GIS), as well as other documents for each type of assistance.
The COA noted in its 2022 annual audit report for the DSWD that there were inconsistencies in the submission of the GIS. “The lack of complete supporting documents casts doubt on the regularity and propriety of the above payments of assistance as well as whether proper screening of eligible beneficiaries was conducted,” the COA report said.
The staff of the DSWD’s Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) have acknowledged their lapses on some of the required documents for the disbursement of assistance, according to the DSWD spokesperson.
“The CIU staff explained that the reason for the non-inclusion of GIS was due to alleged confidential data/information of clients that are highly sensitive as they contain personal information such as the beneficiary’s health, age, marital status, education, and other data provided by the Data Privacy Act,” Asst. Sec. Lopez said.
As to the other documentary requirements that were not submitted, the DSWD spokesperson said the incomplete documentation is due to various factors such as “mishandling of documents resulting in loss or detachment from the file and the large number of clients they are catering to under the AICS program, among others.”
The COA has also flagged the double payments to at least 310 beneficiaries of the AICS in a number of DSWD regional offices such as Central Luzon and Western Visayas.
Asst. Sec. Lopez said the concerned officials and personnel in the DSWD Central Luzon Regional Office have submitted an explanation dated Jan. 25, 2023, indicating that “the occurrence of unsigned certifications due to the overlapping payouts with a voluminous number of beneficiaries, thus the approving officer cannot sign all the documents at once.”
“The approving officers, however, issued a certification that they already approved the payment of grants as long as the beneficiaries have undergone interview and assessment by the social workers,” the DSWD spokesperson said.
Asst. Sec. Lopez said the head of the Crisis Intervention Section of the DSWD Regional Office in Western Visayas explained that “the cash assistance for other support services may be given to the same client, successively, provided that it is for a different incident.”
“Management will require the Crisis Intervention Section to ensure that the certification by the social worker and all documents to ensure the validity of the assistance granted is attached to the liquidation report,” Asec. Lopez said.