In a renewed call to expedite the delivery of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) nationwide, Senator Win Gatchalian has prodded the government to use the Community-based Monitoring System (CBMS) Law to ensure a faster and easier identification of beneficiaries for SAP.
The CBMS Law, which Gatchalian co-authored, is a monitoring system that collects information on all households in the community that is LGU-based, starting at the barangay level. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) takes the lead as the implementing agency. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), for its part, is tasked to develop data-sharing arrangements between government agencies, while the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is responsible to disseminate information relating to activities of the CMBS.
“Sa batas na ito, mas magiging mabilis ang koordinasyon mula sa mga barangay ng bawat lokal na pamahalaan. Bawat barangay at munisipalidad katuwang dito kaya synchronized ang galaw,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker expressed disappointment that as of 8 PM of April 30, only 57% or 10.3 million families out of the 18 million targeted families for the program, have been served. The DILG has originally given LGUs a deadline of until April 30 to grant the said subsidy to their constituents. The deadline has even been extended for another week as requested by some LGUs that have huge social distancing issues and population woes.
Given the situation, Gatchalian urged the national government to expedite the issuance of a set of standards and guidelines for the CBMS Law and utilize all available COVID-19-related government budget, such as the P1.49 trillion total budget of the administration’s economic recovery plan ‘Four-Pillar Socioeconomic Strategy Against COVID-19’. Emergency support for vulnerable groups and individuals falls under Pillar 1, which has an initial budget estimate of P590 billion.
It was earlier reported that the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) is not yet in place due to lack of standards and budget and that a series of pilot test registrations have yet to be conducted before the supposed mass registration schedule in June this year. “Nakalipas na ang isang taon mula nang maisabatas ang CBMS pero hanggang ngayon ay naghihintay pa rin tayo sa mga panuntunan kung papaano ipapatupad ito,” Gatchalian lamented.
“This is yet another wasted opportunity on the part of the government to maximize the potential of the new law, which could have been used for the seamless distribution of relief to many Filipinos during the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
The Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs said that the data gathered thru CBMS can be utilized by the national government and LGUs in implementing focused and targeted welfare assistance and help policy makers and program implementers to have a comprehensive picture of the different dimensions of poverty and identify and implement appropriate interventions./Stacy Ang