Sotto wants Special Amelioration Program transparency on COVID-19

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Tito Sotto

Citing the need for transparency as mandated under the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday called for the publication of the names of individuals who have received the government’s cash aid under the Special Amelioration Program (SAP).

Sotto, who co-authored the Senate version of the law, noted complaints from low-income workers and members of vulnerable sectors as reported in numerous media channels.

“Marami tayong naririnig na reklamo na hindi umano natanggap ng mga taong dapat ay kwalipikadong makakuha ng cash assistance na pinayagan ng Kongreso sa ilalim ng Bayanihan Act. Kaya ang tanong natin ngayon, sino-sino na ba ang nabigyan ng gobyerno? Bakit marami ang nagrereklamong hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa nila nakukuha ang ayuda na nakasaad sa batas?” Sotto said.

Sotto urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to upload in its website the names of the persons who have already received the P5,000 to P8,000 cash assistance and the areas already covered since the distribution of the money aid started.

“The DSWD has the masterlist of those who have already benefitted from the SAP. It should make public the names of the recipients for the sake of transparency,” he said.

The disclosure, he added, will assure the public that the cash grant has indeed been distributed and duly received by qualified beneficiaries.

Sotto noted that in the latest report submitted by President Duterte to Congress in compliance with the requirements set under the Bayanihan law, it was only mentioned that the DSWD has disbursed P80 billion of the P100 billion allotted for the SAP for the month of April. There were no other details related to the distribution of the assistance, such as the total number of recipients, areas distributed and a breakdown of the amounts given to recipient barangays/local government units.

“Nakukulangan ako sa report, hindi kumpleto. Kailangang malinaw sa aming mga mambabatas at sa publiko kung paano ibinahagi itong perang ito. Kulang sa detalye ang ipinasang report sa Kongreso,” he said.

Aside from transparency, the Senate leader said the public disclosure will allow lawmakers to identify possible loopholes or errors in the distribution system adopted by the DSWD.

It will likewise show abuses, if any, committed by local and national social welfare executives, who are in charge of determining who are the qualified beneficiaries.

“Sa panahon ng krisis, mahalagang siguruhin natin na hindi naaabuso ang sistema. Political patronage should be set aside during this difficult time. We should all work together to ensure that government is not hoodwinked by abusive leaders,” Sotto stressed./Stacy Ang

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