BANNER NEWS: DSWD accounts for missing Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries cited in COA report

In a press briefing, beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) came to attest that they are listed as poor in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) database, giving clarification to the Commission on Audit (COA) report that says a number of current household-beneficiaries of the program are not in the database.

Blenda Rendon, a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from Payatas, Quezon City, was part of the list submitted by COA.

Blenda said that she has been a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary for almost two years now.

“Nang makita ko po ang pangalan kong kasama sa listahan na pinakita sa amin bago pa ako maging bene-pisyaryo, pumunta ako sa Community Assembly at doon sinabi sa akin na-eligible ako para masali sa Pantawid Pamilya (When I saw my name on the list shown to us before I became a beneficiary, I attended a Community Assembly where I knew that I am eligible to be included in Pantawid Pamilya),” she said.

Blenda is one of the 364,636 household-beneficiaries who are now fully accounted for by DSWD after COA stated in its annual audit report that they are not in the NHTS-PR database.

“The total number of household-beneficiaries was already clarified with COA and DSWD had validated that 107,373 of these households, covered under the regular CCT program, are both in the Pantawid Pamilya and NHTS-PR databases. The auditors could not locate them because they have limited access to the NHTS-PR database,” said DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano- Soliman.

She added that the remaining 256,663 are under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT).

MCCT households are not listed under the NHTS-PR but are considered poor and part of the vulnerable sector. These include homeless street families and indigenous people in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA). The information of MCCT beneficiaries are stored in a separate database that is open for COA’s viewing.

Sec. Soliman highlighted that the Department is keen on ensuring that the cash grants are paid only to the registered eligible household-beneficiaries whose identities have been properly validated, including households under MCCT.

“It is not only the mandate of the Department to provide social protection and assistance to the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable sectors. We also ensure that such services go to the rightful beneficiaries,” Sec. Soliman added.

Verified households

Sec. Soliman also cited that of the 21,117 household-beneficiaries that are ‘non-poor’ according to the COA report, 21,089 were already verified as poor during the enumeration of households in 2009. The remaining 28 are still undergoing further validation.

Likewise, she clarified that upon validation, the 1,111,244 households reported by COA as ‘poor’ but are not included in the current Pantawid Pamilya database are all registered and active beneficiaries of the program except for 6,680 households that were deactivated for various reasons.

The program has its own grievance redress mechanism that captures, validates, investigates, and responds to complaints received by the program, including reports of ineligibility.

Ongoing validation

Sec. Soliman shared that the program is undergoing a validation of the 4,320 double household entries stated on the COA report.

Based on the partial validation results from 15 regional offices, a total of 1,752 households were verified as unique households and were retained in the program while 609 households were verified as duplicates and were delisted from the program.

She added that the remaining 1,636 reported duplicate entries are still under validation.

No double payment of cash grants

Sec. Soliman further clarified that households listed as ‘duplicates’ are both automatically deactivated by the Pantawid Pamilya system. Hence, there are no double payments.

“Households listed as ‘duplicates’ undergo a process of validation in order for us to know whether these two are unique to each other or under one household. Once verified, the unique households are reactivated to the program and are paid retroactively while those that are verified as double entries are delisted from the program. This prevents us from providing double payments to xplained.

Clarifications submitted

Sec. Soliman emphasized that DSWD has already submitted answers and clarifications to COA as early as November this year.

She said that the Department is one with the state auditing firm in observing and promoting transparency in the government. She added that the auditors were merely seeking documentation of program implementation and did not indicate any suspicion of misuse or misappropriation of funds.

“Pantawid Pamilya is successful in encouraging children’s attendance to school, promoting preventive health check-ups, and improving maternal health. These positive impacts of the program go along with its integrity and we would like to assure the public that the funds allocated for the program go directly to its eligible beneficiaries,” Sec. Soliman concluded.#