State auditors have frowned on payment of grants to approximately 3,649 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries who were “non-compliant with health and education conditions of the program for more than three times.”
According to the Commission on Audit’s (COA) 2014 audit report on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a total of P4.898 million in grants were paid to these beneficiaries in five DSWD field offices (FOs).
“The CY [calendar year]2014 regular payroll revealed that 3,649 non-compliant beneficiaries in sampled municipalities of FOs IV-A, XII, CAR [Cordillera Administrative Region], Caraga and NCR [National Capital Region or Metro Manila] were paid their grants amounting to P4.898 million, despite non-compliance with the health and education conditions of the program in the previous payroll period,” the auditors said.
The 4Ps, also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, is the government’s flagship project that aims to reduce poverty by providing cash grants to extremely poor households so that they can meet human development goals.
Based on the 4Ps Operations Manual, beneficiaries will not receive grants and will be temporarily suspended from the program upon third offense of non-compliance.
A fourth offense means termination from the payroll, pending resolution of the complaint filed with the Grievance Redress System (GRS), if any.
The GRS final decision will determine whether the beneficiary is eligible to stay in the program.
Based on the audit report, 2,835 of the 3,649 beneficiaries were from 72 municipalities in FO Caraga; 300 were from Pikit, General Santos and Glan in FO XII (Soccsksargen); 258 were from Tondo I/II, Quezon City, and Caloocan City in NCR; 195 were from 58 municipalities in CAR: and 61 were from Perez, Alabat and Quezon in FO IV-A (Calabarzon).
“The payment of grants to beneficiaries not compliant [with]the conditionalities of the program is contrary to the 4Ps Operations Manual, which should be immediately recovered from the beneficiaries,” the auditors said.
“We recommended that the [DSWD] Secretary direct the concerned officials to: (a) subject the 3,649 beneficiaries to GRS to determine their eligibility to stay or not in the program; (b) withhold their grants until they meet the conditionalities, if warranted; and, (c) look into the same conditions in other regions not included in the sampled population, for appropriate action,” they said.
But the DSWD disagreed and clarified that the beneficiaries were paid grants accordingly.
“One of the major reasons is that they have no eligible members for CVS [compliance verification system]monitoring, but they subsequently registered 15-18 y/o [year-old] children beneficiaries in the latter periods because of the Extended Age Coverage, therefore they were monitored again and paid accordingly. The other major reason was that they had eligible member/s for CVS monitoring all along, but have not yet updated or known the facilities [school or health center]they access. They may have transferred school or health facilities and have been complying but there were delays in knowing where to monitor them. This is the reason for retroactive payments,” it said.
“Thus, it is not correct to state that there was payment of grants to beneficiaries who are non-compliant [with]the conditionalities of the program. Due to these circumstances, it would be unfair to remove them from the program if the fault was on DSWD,” the DSWD said.
Because of the explanation above, the audit report said, the DSWD “asserted that there is no need to recover any excess grants from these household beneficiaries.”
But the auditors remained firm in their observation.
“COA verification of the PPIS [Pantawid Pamilya Information System], however, showed that sample HH [household]grantees were not in the ‘active’ status and/or child-beneficiary/ies either no school or not enrolled, hence, we maintain this observation,” they said.