DSWD failed to dole out P1.9 billion in SAP aid: COA

A composite of Philippine pesos and a shocked man for DSWD failed SAP distribution.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) failed to distribute at least P1.9 billion of the Social Amelioration Program (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) failed to distribute at least P1.9 billion of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), said the Commission on Audit (COA) in its latest report.

DSWD’s FO NCR and FO Region 6 did not dole out P1.753 billion and P155.094 million in cash assistance or “ayuda,” respectively, under the SAP-Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP).

Consequently, as the cash subsidy was allocated under the Bayanihan 1, the monies had to be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) when the law expired in 2020, according to OneNetwork.

“Cash advances (CAs) granted to Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs)/Accountable Officers (AOs) of DSWD Field Office (FO) National Capital Region (NCR) and VI (Western Visayas) for implementation of SAP amounting to P1,908,536,000.00 were not distributed to beneficiaries, depriving them of the financial assistance needed during the pandemic,” said the COA report.

Noting that schedules of payouts were not yet determined before drawing the CAs, the COA added that in FO NCR, the CAs that had to be refunded was higher than what was paid out to SAP beneficiaries.

The refunds were attributed to "poor planning and monitoring" on the part of the program implementers in the implementation of SAP-ESP, as "the payment turnout ranges only from fifteen to thirty percent as compared to the refunds made out of the total CAs granted."

Other reasons cited by the FO NCR were challenges in coordinating with the local government units (LGUs) especially in terms of convening the SAP beneficiaries for payout due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

P2.5 billion in CAs still unliquidated

In the FO 6, the low distribution rate was down to reliance on an inaccurate list of beneficiaries, caused by an adequate monitoring and control mechanism.

"This resulted in the incurrence of undistributed grant which were not utilized by the program implementers. Thus, huge amount of unexpended government funds was refunded after 2 to 6 months, which could have been used to aid the poor during the pandemic," said the COA.

Meanwhile, the COA said that as of end of 2021, a total of P2.552 billion in SAP-ESP CAs granted by the DSWD to SDOs and AOs, remained unliquidated.

In particular, the FO NCR failed to close down its SAP account with Land Bank of the Philippines and remit the account balance amounting to P276.589 million to the BTr, despite the end of the SAP’s implementation.

The COA said this was mainly due to the delayed submission of liquidation reports by the SDOs and AOs.