July 16, 2024

Councilor Jose Molintas raised concerns once again about the alleged “politicization” of government relief programs.

Along with other city council members, Molintas quizzed representatives of national agencies on the logistics and implementation of various relief efforts in the city such as Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad), Ayuda Para sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP), and Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).

He sought clarification on certain issues to avoid direct involvement of politicians in relief efforts and ensure strict adherence to regulations and fairness in the application process.

Molintas said the preparation and distribution of relief should remain non-political.

He cited instances where a certain politician attended orientations of beneficiaries and gave speeches, giving the impression that the funding came from them personally.

Emerito Narag, OIC Asst. Regional Director of DOLE-Cordillera said their office strives to avoid political perceptions in the distribution of ayuda by using money remittance centers or handing the payouts directly.

He acknowledged Molintas’ suggestion to document and monitor the process more closely to avoid political influences.

Narag added while the core funding comes from DOLE’s budget, politicians can request funds from DOLE through formal channels.

If approved, politicians are referred to as sponsors or proponents, not because they provide the money directly, but because they facilitate the allocation through DOLE.

He said this is clearly explained during orientation sessions to maintain integrity in program operations.

Mary Ann Buclao of DSWD-Cordillera said they adhere to standard operating procedures and ISO certification in implementing their programs offering social services and stressed that funds for these programs originate from their department and not sponsors.

Molintas also expressed concern on the issuance of the residency certification, a requirement for applying for relief provision, which, he claimed, can be politicized.

He also claimed there had been complaints about favoritism and unfair practices at the grassroots level, with some residents being charged P100 for the certification.

He said some barangay officials often prioritize their own family members or close associates, who repeatedly benefit from the program, while other residents are not given the same opportunities.

The city council members urged the concerned departments to address these issues promptly.

Councilor Arthur Allad-iw emphasized the need for coordination between different government entities such as DOLE and DSWD to avoid duplication of benefits and ensure fair distribution.

He said currently, there is a lack of coordination, leading to some families receiving benefits multiple times while others are left out.

Narag suggested different offices should share data about profiled beneficiaries to prevent overlap and ensure efficient use of resources.

The majority of the council members voted in favor of Molintas’ and Allad-iw’s oral motion requesting DOLE and DSWD to submit narrative reports and documentation for activities related to the grant of benefits under TUPAD, AKAP, and AICS. – Jordan G. Habbiling