GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 07 May) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has deployed validation teams across the region to look into the grievances or complaints from residents regarding the ongoing implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-Region 12 director, said they started on Thursday the region-wide validation activities, which aims to ensure that only qualified beneficiaries received the P5,000 emergency cash assistance from the national government.
He said they assigned at least 40 personnel to “personally validate” the list of eligible and non-eligible families for the SAP assistance, which was intended for residents hardest hit by the impact of the community quarantine measures amid the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The official said the teams were properly briefed on the validation guidelines for SAP implementation ahead of their deployment.
He said they were tasked to validate the grievances reported by residents regarding questions on the eligibility of some beneficiaries and other related concerns.
“We had encouraged the people to voice out and report anomalies or irregularities concerning the SAP (rollout),” Espejo said in a statement.
Since the start of SAP distribution late last month, he said the agency has received numerous complaints through its social media accounts, among them the supposed lapses by some local officials in assessing the qualifications of the recipients.
He said it was important for them to get the side of the complainants and listen to their grievances.
Espejo said they endorsed last week to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) a report on the alleged irregularities committed by some local government officials in line with the SAP implementation.
He said the report, which was elevated to the DILG for further investigation and appropriate action, involved officials of three municipalities in the region.
These involved the improper handling of the distribution of the SAP assistance, among them “splitting the money to cover more recipients, threats to remove the names of their constituents in the lists, forcing beneficiaries to buy sacks of rice upon receiving their aid, and handpicking of ineligible beneficiaries.”
As of Wednesday, DSWD-12 said around PHP2.6 billion in cash assistance under SAP was already distributed by the local government units to the beneficiaries in the region based on its tracker.
It has so far benefited some 526,891 poor families who were severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
Of the 45 municipalities and five cities in Region 12, the agency said 23 have completed the distribution of the SAP assistance. (MindaNews)