COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 21 August) – “Slap them, create a scene!”
This is the advice of Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on what to do to corrupt government officials taking cuts from the payouts for beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) intended for the poorest of the poor.
Sinarimbo, during the launch of the weekly Kapihan sa Bangsamoro last Monday, echoed the message of President Rodrigo Duterte during the latter’s 4th State of the Nation Address last month, after the Ministry of Interior of Local Government of the BARMM was alarmed over reports that the resumption of the multimillion-peso 4Ps program are being used by some corrupt leaders to their advantage once again.
“Pwede na nilang gawin yung sinabi ni President Duterte na sampalin nila, para meron tayong mapag-usapan, yung merong marka na pwede nating habulin at kasuhan” (They can do what President Duterte said that they can slap them, so there’s something to talk about, if possible would leave a mark so we’d know who to run after and file charges), he said.
Sinarimbo said the reports they received say officials from the barangays and municipalities, with links to employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, are interfering in the payouts
He said they will continue validating the reports and to conduct investigations to stop the practice, noting that the BARMM administration is pushing for moral governance.
A video of a Lanao del Sur payout activity a few years ago went viral where the barangay chairman was caught in a footage getting cuts from the beneficiaries.
The DSWD national office advised last year to stop the payouts after noting discrepancies, like bloated data of those enrolled in the 4Ps, leading to the stoppage of the program in the Bangsamoro region.
This was followed by massive validation, the use biometric system, and actual house to house enumeration of every member beneficiaries.
A new cleansed list is now being used by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development (MSWD).
MSWD personnel cited that in the town of Malabang in Lanao del Sur, which resumed 4Ps payouts last August 8, the number enrolled beneficiaries now number at 3,848. Before the list was cleansed, the enrollees totalled 3,900, or 52 beneficiaries more. The government thus saved P365,000.
But Malabang Mayor Mohamad Macapodi complained that MSWD enumerators are not conducting house-to-house visits to validate data, doing it instead from afar.
Lawyer Raissa Jajurie, MSWD head, acknowledged the need for enumerators to visit the residences of beneficiaries where they can get the real situation of the household.
Her office has sought the assistance of the MILG to help them work with local officials in properly implementing the program and stop the wrongdoings of the past.
In response, the MILF issued Memorandum Order No. 25, which refrains local officials from directly or indirectly interfering in the process or use the program for their political advantage.
Beneficiaries in the Bangsamoro region could now get as much as P15,000 to P30,000 each because of the stoppage of the program.
In Lanao del Sur, the payout coverage will be until October. Tawi-tawi, meanwhile, will have theirs starting in September. Maguindanao and Sulu will follow soon after.
Noraida Lomondot, 50, a widowed grandmother and breadwinner from Barangay Macauranding in Malabang town, said there was no way she would share her 4Ps money to any local officials or anybody from the MSWD.
“Why would I give share this with them? I am old and helpless; this is for the poor,” she said in the vernacular.
Lomondot is raising three grandchildren, whom she said are a product of a broken family, abandoned by her jobless daughter.
“I am just thankful that 4Ps came. Otherwise, I don’t know what to do,” she added.
Lomondot admitted, though, that a huge part of her money from the 4Ps will be used to pay debts. Representatives of lending companies were waiting outside the gate of the municipal hall, ready to collect their money from the beneficiaries. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)