Press Release
November 18, 2023

Bong Go calls on DSWD to ensure efficient and impartial distribution of aid for the poor

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, during the Senate plenary session on the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) 2024 budget on Thursday, November 16, called for impartiality and efficiency in the distribution of governmental aid to qualified poor and vulnerable sectors.

"Sana po'y hindi maging selective ang opisina. Huwag po nating gamitin ito sa politika... huwag po nating pagsamantalahan 'yung mga kababayan nating mahihirap para lang po sa politika," said Go.

"'Yan po ang pakiusap ko, and I'm sure our good secretary alam po niya 'yan. Matagal ka na pong naging mayor, mambabatas at alam ko may puso ka rin po sa ating mga kababayang mahihirap," he added.

As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and member of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Go began his statement by expressing his unwavering support for programs aimed at assisting the most vulnerable Filipinos.

"I am here to support the programs that would address the welfare and needs of Filipinos who are most vulnerable and in need of assistance, lalung-lalo na po 'yung mga kababayan nating walang matakbuhan kundi tayo pong nasa gobyerno," said Go.

"Basta mga programa na nakakatulong sa ating mga kababayan, nakahanda po akong sumuporta," he added.

"Isa ako sa mga nagsulong na madagdagan ang budget ng DSWD para sa taong ito," Go said, indicating his active role in previous budget enhancements.

His support to DSWD was evident in his personal recount of on-ground activities, "Mahal na mahal ko po ang DSWD. Magkasama po tayo kapag may sunog, pinupuntahan ko talaga 'yan. Minsan nauuna pa ako sa inyo doon sa sunog."

"Totoo 'yan. Bagyo, baha, lindol, putok ng bulkan, buhawi. And even in my small capacity as a senator, kahit personal ko po, ang aking opisina, kahit papaano nakakapagbigay kami ng counterpart (na tulong bukod sa ayuda mula DSWD) sa ating mga kababayan tulad ng pagkain, bitamina, facemask, at iba pa," he added.

Go reiterated his call for an equitable and non-political distribution of aid saying, "it is therefore our duty to ensure that these programs are truly beneficial to our countrymen and that our kababayans who are in crisis will not be deprived of the services of the government."

A key issue Go raised was the reported problems in the implementation of the Assistance in Crisis Situations (AICS) program. He expressed concern over reports that indigent Filipinos who have been validated were allegedly being turned away from receiving aid.

His plea for reconsideration of these cases was clear: "Once validated na talagang mahirap sila, naghihirap at nangangailangan ng tulong, baka pwede pong balikan n'yo po sila."

Go, in discussion with Senator Imee Marcos who sponsored DSWD's budget, delved into the specifics of the AICS budget. He highlighted the substantial funds allocated for AICS, "Mahigit P16 billion ang pondo ng AICS during that time," and the number of Filipinos who could be aided, "5.3 million beneficiaries ang pwedeng tulungan nito, assuming na P3,000 po ang ibibigay (sa bawat kwalipikadong benepisyaryo)."

"Sa 2024, ang ating nire-recommend sa Senate version, eh, P56.28 billion," Marcos informed, to which Go responded by calculating the potential number of beneficiaries, "Almost 19 million Filipinos po ang (maaaring) matulungan nito sa 2024."

Go showed particular concern for victims of natural disasters in various regions. He called for attention to "validated" victims in areas affected by typhoons and floods, such as Region III, Cagayan, Zambales, Bulacan, Bataan, Davao City, Marikina, Bohol, and Southern Leyte, among others.

"Baka pwede n'yo pong ma-check," he urged, highlighting the need for prompt assistance to these areas.

"Kaya nga po tinawag ito na Assistance in Crisis Situation, so ibig sabihin nasa krisis po - bagyo, baha, sunog, lindol ay maibigay po kaagad ito sa kanila once validated po, Madam Sponsor."

Moreover, Go brought to light the challenges faced by local government units in getting their validated lists of beneficiaries acknowledged by regional DSWD offices.

He insisted on the importance of these lists being taken seriously, "I'm sure ang good secretary ay hindi po papayag na pabalik-balik po itong mga local officials or CSWD na validated naman po ang kanilang mga listahan."

Marcos agreed, reaffirming the need for efficiency and responsiveness in these matters.

Previously, Go mentioned that the budget allocated for AICS must be utilized immediately to benefit those who qualify for such assistance from the government. He also reminded the government of the responsibility to ensure that no funds are wasted, especially in a post-pandemic recovery period.

Go also focused on the Malasakit Centers, a key initiative he spearheaded by providing government health and financial assistance to Filipinos in need. Principally authored and sponsored by Go, Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 has established 159 Malasakit Centers nationwide and has assisted over ten million Filipinos so far, according to DOH.

However, he raised concerns about staffing challenges, particularly the absence of DSWD representatives in some centers.

"We received a report that 13 Malasakit Centers do not have DSWD representatives," he revealed, indicating a gap in service provision.

DSWD, through Sen. Marcos, acknowledged the issue, citing the nationwide shortage of social workers as a primary cause. This shortage was impacting the functionality of the Malasakit Centers, as Go pointed out, "Malaking fulfillment po sa inyong trabaho 'yon bilang social worker na makapagserbisyo mismo doon sa ospital."

Go's call for action was clear as he urged qualified individuals to apply, "Nananawagan tayo sa mga social workers, baka gusto ninyong mag-apply sa DSWD, tumulong po kayo."

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