Press Release
September 23, 2020

Drilon tells DSWD: Give P10-B 'ayuda' to poor families

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon hit the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for withholding P10 billion in financial aid to poor families as mandated under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Drilon raised the issue to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez during the Senate Committee of Finance's hearing on the proposed P4.5-trillion budget.

"To stimulate the economy, the government should spend money so long as it is within the bounds that we have set. In yesterday's hearing of the DSWD, however, the secretary of the DSWD said they have not spent P10 billion out of what was given to them," said Drilon, referring to the P10 billion which was part of the funds released to the DSWD under the Bayanihan 1 as "ayuda" or special amelioration program (SAP) to 18 million families.

The minority leader noted that government spending accounts for about 20% of the country's gross domestic product.

Drilon said the decision of the DSWD not to spend the P10 billion contradicts the pronounced policy of the government to spend money in order to stimulate the economy.

The DSWD said the P10 billion is still within the agency as it awaits instructions from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) whether to realign or return it to the treasury. "If this practice will go on, I am afraid that your policy of budget spending will not bear fruit," Drilon said.

Dominguez, for his part, said he was quite surprised about the P10 billion unspent amount and vowed to take it up with the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC), as he emphasized that under today's circumstances the government should spend, not save, its way to prosperity.

Drilon said he fully supports the government's policy of spending, rather than tightening the belt, during the pandemic.

"The government needs to spend within the remaining months of the year to jumpstart the economy. We must spend money to feed the 5.2 million Filipino households who are hungry, provide jobs to seven million Filipinos and give assistance to distressed businesses," Drilon said in a statement.

Thus, Drilon said the DSWD should spend the money for the purpose intended for it and that is to provide financial aid to Filipinos heavily affected by the pandemic.

"The DSWD should give the P10 billion to the poor which did not receive the second tranche of SAP. Huwag po nating tipirin ang tulong natin sa ating mga kababayan," he said.

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