Responding to news articles citing the findings of the 2013 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that answers and clarifications to the audit observations have already been submitted to the state auditing firm.
Sec. Soliman emphasized that the auditors were merely seeking documentation of program implementation and did not indicate any suspicion of misuse or misappropriation of funds.
“We are confident that there is nothing to doubt about the Department’s integrity, especially with the funds that COA cites as unliquidated in their 2013 annual audit report. The funds went to the rightful beneficiaries,” Sec. Soliman added.
The news articles reported that out of the P10.626 billion funds transferred by the DSWD to the Land Bank of the Philippines for the payment of Pantawid Pamilya cash grants for 2013, only P10.295 billion was utilized or disbursed as of Dec. 31, 2013, leaving behind a balance of P330.347 million representing unpaid amount intended for beneficiaries in eight regions. Some P91.929 million of which were unclaimed grants of active beneficiaries in Regions IV-A, VI, IX, and CARAGA.
“The DSWD is currently working on the liquidation of the whole amount. In fact we have already liquidated 94% of the 2013 funds for cash grants. Further, the Department is processing the return of cash grants intended for families/ households who were tagged by our system as delisted, with reflected status as missing, no eligible member for monitoring, or moved to areas not covered by the program,” Sec. Soliman explained.
The Department has responded and said that 1,752 of which are unique households and were retained in the programs, while only 609 are actual duplicates and were delisted. The remaining 1,636 remaining entries are still undergoing validation.
In the database
In the COA report, the auditors claim to have found 364,036 benefeciaries not in the database entries.
After authenticating, the DSWD confirmed that 107,373 of these beneficiaires are covered under the regular CCT program and are both in the Pantawid Pamilya and the National Household Targetting System (NHTS) databases.
The other 256,663 are under the modified CCT (MCCT).
MCCT households are not under the NHTS, but are considered poor and part of the vulnerable sector. These are street dwellers and indigenous peoples. The information of MCCT beneficiaires are stored in a separate database and is open for COA’s viewing.
Sec. Soliman also cited the innovations being undertaken by the Department for a more efficient program implementation.
The program has its own dedicated grievance redress mechanism that captures, validates, investigates, and responds to complaints received by the program.
Apart from the text hotline of 09189122813, grievances may be filed through Facebook page “Tanggapan ng Reklamo” and through the Twitter account @4psreklamo.
As of November 2014, the agency, through the Grievance Redress System (GRS), has already delisted a total of 52,657 households since 2009. A total of 232,747 households have been deactivated or are pending for validation from the program. These are households whose accounts have been frozen, mainly because of reports of ineligibility or double entry, while awaiting results of investigation. This is to continuously address complaints on inclusion errors and maintain a clean database of beneficiaries.
“We have also included third party monitoring by involving Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who are serving as our watchdog as part of our ‘Bantay, Gabay, Tulay and Kaagapay’ framework of partnership with this sector,” Sec. Soliman said.
DSWD also involves the academe, non-government organizations, and the private sector as members of its National Independent Advisory Monitoring Committee (NIAMC) to help in the monitoring of the program.
Investment in the future
Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households as identified by Listahanan. It utilizes the conditional cash transfer scheme where qualified households receive grants provided they comply with their co-responsibilities such as attendance of children aged 3-18 years old in school; regular health check-ups for children aged 0-5 years or pregnant member of the household, and attendance to the monthly Family Development Sessions.
To date, the program covers 4.4 million households in the 17 regions of the country.
Sec. Soliman also shared that based on the latest result of the impact evaluation, the Pantawid Pamilya is successful in encouraging school attendance, promoting preventive health check-ups and improving maternal health.
“We would like to assure the public that the amount entrusted to our Department goes directly to eligible poor households and that these investments will bear fruit in the years to come. We recognize that there are challenges in program implementation, but we wish to reiterate that these are being responded to accordingly,” Sec. Soliman concluded. ### (Pantawid Pamilya, Social Marketing Unit)