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DSWD practices strict adherence to AICS guidelines – agency official

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) strictly adheres to the implementing guidelines of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program, Undersecretary for Legislative Liaison and Coordination Group Fatima Aliah Dimaporo said on Tuesday (January 23) during the Senate hearing on the alleged ‘ayuda’ scam.

“DSWD personnel practice strict adherence to the guidelines and regulation in the implementation of financial assistance program, cash counted in front of the beneficiary. It is ensured that the amount they receive matches the signed payroll,” Undersecretary Dimaporo said in her opening message.

An inquiry was called by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to look into reports of alleged pilferage by unscrupulous individuals of the agency’s cash aid in Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte provinces.

“In light of these allegations and the sheer weight of the possible corruption that underpins them, we admit that this is a major concern that our government should deeply look into,” Committee Chair and Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa said.

Undersecretary Dimaporo told the senators that the agency personnel have no involvement in the allegations that parts of the cash aid received by the beneficiaries were ‘forcibly taken’ from them by unidentified individuals.

“DSWD personnel have no involvement in requesting beneficiaries to return part of the financial assistance nor knowledge of beneficiaries being forced to return cash to third parties,” Undersecretary Dimaporo pointed out.

According to Usec. Dimaporo, the sole responsibility of the DSWD personnel during payout activities is the disbursement of financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries who meet the requirements.

“Allegations of assistance being taken away from the beneficiaries including the discretion of the beneficiaries in using the received cash assistance, it falls beyond DSWD purview,” the agency official stressed.

According to reports received by Senator Dela Rosa, there were over 60 individuals from Davao del Norte and seven from Davao de Oro who had been allegedly victimized by a scheme involving the DSWD’s cash aid program.

“There were serious allegations narrating how beneficiaries who were supposed to receive the expected assistance of Php5,000 received the meager amount of P1,000. Further, the governor described how the perpetrators led the victims to a separate room where their money would be “forcibly taken” from them, and how they went home with only P1,000.00 in their pocket,” Sen. Dela Rosa said.

Usec. Dimaporo explained that the amount of aid that will be given to the clients is based on the assessment of the social workers.

“The amount of payout depends on the validation and qualifications that are reviewed by our social workers,” the DSWD undersecretary said.

The DSWD official also shared that the payouts in the said provinces last year were conducted through a fund transfer modality, which was stipulated in the memorandum of agreement (MOA )signed by the DSWD Field Office-11 (Davao Region) and concerned local government units (LGUs).

Under the MOA, the provincial and local governments will be the one to implement the program following the guidelines and protocols set by the DSWD.

“The DSWD is categorically committed to delivering crucial programs to poor vulnerable and disadvantaged Filipino citizens,” Usec. Dimaporo said, explaining why the DSWD entered into an agreement with the LGUs in implementing the AICS program.

Usec. Dimaporo also assured the committee that the DSWD is committed to improving the agency’s existing mechanism to ensure that public funds are accounted for and used for its intended purposes.

“Whether that [downloading of funds to LGUs through MOA] needs to be reviewed, that is something that we will definitely look into and improve our systems,” the DSWD official said.

Usec. Dimaporo reiterated that “the DSWD is categorically committed to delivering crucial programs to poor vulnerable and disadvantaged Filipino citizens.”

Committee vice chairpersons, Sen. Christopher Bong Go, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, and Sen. Francis Tolentino shared their manifestations and insights.

Joining Usec. Dimaporo in the hearing were Asst. Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel M. Lopez; DSWD Field Office-11 (Davao Region) Regional Director Vanessa Goc-Ong; and Edwin Morata, OIC Division Chief of Program Management Bureau – Crisis Intervention Division of the DSWD Central Office.

Concerned officials from the local and provincial government units were also present in the hearing.

The DSWD, according to Usec Dimaporo, is committed to cooperate in the investigation of the alleged ‘ayuda’ scam.

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