Senator Pangilinan: Track the virus, track the funds

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Pangilinan

A month into the enhanced community quarantine, Senator Francis Pangilinan on Thursday said assistance to the people has been slow, if not wanting, guidelines are vague, and not everyone gets the promised subsidy.

With billions — from government funds, savings, loans and private donations — being touted for disposal, Pangilinan said the public should know where the money went.

“We want to see actual numbers rather than targets, and system rather than confusion in the distribution of cash and relief, and the people need to feel that the government is always responding with urgency. Service to the people should travel faster than the virus,” Pangilinan said in his letter to the Office of the Senate President for reference and possible submission to the Office of the President.

Reviewing the third report on anti-COVID-19 efforts, the senator observed “unsubstantial progress in the delivery of assistance” to the intended beneficiaries.

Pangilinan added that the report also presented targets and funds released to agencies, but not the actual funds disbursed to beneficiaries.

“There is a strong policy imperative to find alternative ways to quickly reach the poor,” he stressed.

Absent a clear catch-up plan that will ensure the intended family recipients receive the needed cash in the next one or two weeks, Pangilinan said the government may want to consider tapping the services of telecommunication companies offering mobile money transfers to provide the cash assistance in geographic pockets of poverty.

Pangilinan urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development to speed up the validation of the additional eligible family beneficiaries identified by the local government units, so that no one will be left out and left hungry amid the pandemic.

Pangilinan urged the government to consider setting up a system to aid it and the public in effectively monitoring the progress of the efforts in the fight against the coronavirus disease.

One example is the use of the COVID19 PH Citizen’s Budget Tracker Team or a similar system that will give a clear summary of the program, target number of beneficiaries, actual number of beneficiaries reached, actual amount released and the implementing agencies.

“We can work with data analysts and citizens’ groups to monitor where the money goes. It is also good practice to show the donors how their donations are making an impact on the people,” Pangilinan said.

“Transparency and accountability in the use of people’s money should not be set aside in the mist of the coronavirus pandemic,” Pangilinan added./Stacy Ang

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