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LGUs to get their day in House SAP probe


By Ellson Quismorio

The House investigation on the delayed cash aid distribution under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) will eventually shift its focus on the accountability of local government units (LGUs) for the billions worth of funds.

Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor (AnaKalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor (AnaKalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor, vice chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, said his committee has started an inquiry on the controversial SAP dole out in aid of legislation.

“There will be a proper time for that when LGUs will need to account for the funds released,” Defensor said on Friday.

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte hinted at the possible malfeasance of local executives in connection with the emergency assistance program, which is a key component of Republic Act (RA) No.11469, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Villafuerte said in particular that a mayor from his province had distributed SAP money to employees of University of North Eastern Philippines. The problem is, the mayor, whom he did not name, owns the University.

“Dahil marami pong reports sa akin…na ang mayor doon, may eskwelahan. Maraming report po, may affidavit na rin na ang mayor po doon binigyan niya ng SAP ang mga empleyado ng University niya, which is illegal (I’ve received many reports…that the mayor there owns a school. There have been many reports and affidavits saying that the mayor there gave SAP to the employees of this University, which is illegal),” Villafuerte said.

He even moved to have the Good Government panel subpoena the mayor to get to the bottom of the allegations.

Panel members have yet to wrap up their interpellation or “grilling” of officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is the government agency in charge of the distribution of the P200-billion SAP.

Defensor said issues concerning the LGUs’ handling of the public funds will also have to be discussed by the committee.

“That’s an important part of the probe that deserves to be threshed out,” he said.

Defensor said that when the appropriate time comes, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año will be asked to participate in the discussions. “His presence will be vital,” he added.

Those who attended the hearing on Monday were DSWD’s various undersecretaries and regional directors who were heavily criticized by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for making the SAP distribution more tedious than it should have been. This happened much to the detriment of the 18 million poor or near-poor families which are the target beneficiaries.

“As witnessed during the discussion, many of the regional directors were defying orders of Usecs and I think even of [DSWD] Sec. [Rolando Bautista]. So the congressman wanted to clarify the policies as regards the implementation,” said Defensor, who also chairs the Committee on Public Accounts.

The SAP beneficiaries were supposed to be granted two tranches (April and May) of emergency subsidy worth P5,000 to P8,000, depending on their area, to help them cope with the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the first payout took place in May, while the second is currently underway, the DSWD said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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