Press Release
May 22, 2020

Bong Go commends honest Filipinos who returned COVID-19 emergency cash assistance; asks agencies to account for every peso spent for COVID-19 aid

Despite the hardship affecting practically everyone because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there are still individuals who were honest enough when they chose to return cash assistance received due to duplication.

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go commended their honesty after reports of beneficiaries who opted to decline or return doubled emergency financial assistances in favor of those who have not received assistance during the crisis.

Recently, two individuals from Las Piñas City returned their cash aid after learning that their employer had already filed for financial assistance through the Social Security System. Bernie Rejano Donato and Carlos Simbillo, aircon installer and aircon technician, respectively, returned their P8,000-cash aid each to the City Social Welfare and Development, which also thanked them for their honest gesture.

"Natutuwa po ako sa mga balita na may mga kababayan tayong tapat lalo na sa ganitong panahon. Itong nakaraan lang, nabalitaan ko yung dalawang manggagawa sa Las Piñas na sinauli ang (Social Amelioration Program) assistance nila dahil may benefits na sila sa SSS," Go said.

"Malaking bagay po ang pagiging tapat nila. Dahil doon, ang pera na ibinalik nila ay mapupunta sa iba pang nangangailangan ng tulong," Go added.

Since the outbreak of the disease in the country, the DSWD has identified eighteen million low-income families to receive financial assistance through the SAP. The DSWD has since then partnered with local government units to distribute the cash aid to the intended qualified beneficiaries across the country.

As of this writing, the DSWD said that it has distributed the financial grant to 16.1 million beneficiaries. The total amount disbursed so far is P90.5 billion. Throughout the distribution process, there have also been reports of honest beneficiaries who received and returned the cash aid due to duplication of assistance from other programs of government.

Aside from DSWD's assistance, the Department of Labor and Employment has given P3.247 billion pesos worth of financial aid through its COVID-19 Adjustment Measurement Program to workers in the formal sector who lost their jobs. Furthermore, the Social Security System has given a total of P20.4 billion cash grants to more than two million employee-beneficiaries under the Small Business Wage Subsidy Program.

These programs were created to assist identified beneficiaries from specified sectors who have been adversely affected by the pandemic - from the poorest of the poor, vulnerable groups, displaced workers, and employees of micro, small and medium enterprises.

However, in the distribution process, there were some duplications reported which led to some grantees receiving duplicate cash aid from two different programs. This is currently being addressed by the concerned agencies.

Senator Go took the opportunity to urge Filipinos to follow the example of these honest Filipinos as a way of demonstrating integrity and bayanihan during this difficult time, adding that if individuals receive duplicate COVID-19 emergency cash grants, they should report and return them to their respective LGUs.

"Nananawagan po ako sa mga kapwa kong Pilipino na sundan natin ang mabuting ehemplo ng ating mga tapat na kababayan. Ito ang bayanihan na kailangan natin sa panahon ngayon," Go said.

"For every honest Filipino, another Filipino family which needs help is saved. Kaya kung nakatanggap po kayo ng dobleng ayuda, pakiusap ko lang po na ibalik niyo. Honesty will go a long way. The more we help each other, the faster we will overcome this crisis caused by COVID-19," Go added.

He also urged agencies to account for every peso distributed and spent, adding that utmost transparency is important especially now that the government is prioritizing the distribution of various forms of assistances to affected Filipinos.

"Sa panahon ngayon, tanging konsensya talaga ang gabay ng lahat para walang masayang sa kaban ng bayan. Gawin po natin ang tama at siguraduhing matulungan lahat ng nangangailangan. In this time of crisis, every peso must be accounted for," Go said.

During the May 20 hearing of the Senate acting as the Committee of the Whole, Go again asked the concerned agencies which, in turn, assured the Senator that they have existing data sharing agreement for the list of beneficiaries to ensure non-duplication of provision of financial aid. The Senator urged them to be more transparent and accountable to the public by showing lists of beneficiaries of the said various programs.

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