Press Release
November 18, 2020

Drilon scolds DSWD for keeping P83-B in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, calamities

Senate Minority Franklin M. Drilon lamented the failure of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to utilize around P83 billion from its budget in the face of a pandemic and calamities that continue to hit the country, calling the non-disbursement of the fund "criminal."

"To not distribute P83 billion to our affected countrymen in the face of all these difficulties is almost criminal. Hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ito. Mayroon tayong pera pero hindi natin ibinibigay sa nangangailangan," Drilon said during his interpellation of the proposed P175 billion budget of the social welfare department for 2021.

"Hindi po nararamdaman ng taumbayan ang tulong ng pamahalaan dahilan sa nagkukulang ang pamahalaan. Mayroong P83 billion undisbursed, which is criminal. This should not be allowed to continue," Drilon stressed.

During the continuation of the Senate deliberation on the proposed P4.5 trillion spending outlay for next year, Sen. Imee Marcos, who sponsored the budget of the agency, said that there is around P83 billion unexpended from the past budgets given to the DSWD.

This happened while around 5 million Filipino families went hungry in the past three months while around 7.7 million Filipinos lost jobs and livelihood due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Drilon.

"I am disappointed to say the least. This is very frustrating," Drilon added.

Senator Marcos and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralp Recto also expressed dismay over the non-disbursement of the available funds.

Drilon's questioning of the undisbursed P83 billion funding that could have helped Filipinos heavily affected by Covid-19 pandemic and the recent typhoons led to a proposal by Sen. Francis Pangilinan for the Senate to pass a resolution urging for the immediate disbursement of the unutilized funds. The senators agreed to pass the resolution.

Drilon also lamented the lack of budget for social amelioration program.

"I think it is a given that of all the budgets of the DSWD in the recent year, next year will be more critical and important," said Drilon, citing the loss of jobs, the weakened household consumption and the increase in the number of hungry Filipinos.

Drilon emphasized the need to stimulate the demand side of the economy by providing more funds in the pockets of the people through the SAP, commonly referred to as ayuda.

"The DSWD in this case would play a very critical role. The DSWD budget becomes very important because of the needed assistance of the poor sector of our society," he said.

However, Drilon expressed dismay at the budget of the DSWD for next year, saying it lacks allocation for an emergency subsidy program.

He cited the study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) released a study, which found that the Covid-19 pandemic's aftermath could push 1.5 million Filipinos into poverty, or if everyone's incomes were to be cut by 10%, as many as 5.5 million Filipinos.

Drilon said the economy will benefit if we disburse funds and put money in the hands of the people.

"We will solve the social issue of hunger and we will stimulate the economy by putting funds in the pockets of the people," he said.

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