The City Council is looking into allegations of irregularities in the distribution of financial assistance being given out by the barangays to poor families in the five areas of Puerto Princesa covered by a hard lockdown.

The matter was raised by Councilor Elgin Damasco, who claimed that certain residents in the areas covered by the program have complained that they were excluded from the distribution and that some have received less than what they were supposed to get based on the guidelines released by the city government.

The city government has allocated some P59,200,000 for a subsidy to deserving families which totaled 26,821 households based on a list submitted by the five affected barangays.

In the meeting of the City Council, Damasco claimed that some qualified beneficiaries did not receive their financial aid.

“May mga kababayan tayo na hindi naman daw nakatanggap ng financial assistance mula sa city government,” Damasco said. He also pointed out to allegations raised on Facebook that some had received less than P2,200.

City planning officer Engr. Jovenee Sagun explained that the list of the beneficiaries came from the barangays, which were supposed to identify them based on eligibility requirements under the Special Amelioration Program (SAP) of the national government.

“Nagmula sa mga barangay council ang listahan [ng mga beneficiaries]. Ang dinala sa amin ay ang projected 2021 population based sa PSA census and not a list. Kung titingnan natin ang projected na ito for the entire area pero may inilabas ang IATF na memo sa mga barangay. Galing ang list sa barangay workers na nagbahay-bahay using .62 percent growth rate,” she said.

She explained that the barangay did not have a list of the beneficiaries and the city decided to release the amount based on the projected household population.

“Wala pa silang sinubmit, nagbigay tayo based doon sa number ng projected household population. Hindi galing sa atin ang mga pangalan ng mga beneficiaries para sa P2,200,” she said.

City Councilor Jimbo Maristela expressed concern that the City Social Welfare and Development Office did not have a role in the financial assistance distribution.

“Mukhang di po nakialam ang CSWD. Maaaring napolitika kasi kung sino lang ang kakampi ni kapitan. Bukod sa bgy officials ay mayroon sna tayong tao doon para ang mga kababayan natin na sinasabing hindi kakampi ng kapitan ay may tatakbhan lalo na kung qualified naman sila. Mukhang doon sila sa linyada ng kanilang kapitan,” he said.

In the case of Barangay San Manuel, Kap. Gloria Miguel said that there are more than 3,000 beneficiaries and they had difficulty in deciding who should be prioritized. 

“Ang naging problema ay 6,000 plus ang households. Hindi namin alam kung paano namin sasalain kasi. Nagagalit sila kasi pinipili lang daw. Sa tingin ko may kakulangan pa rin at hindi nila matanggap na ang iba ay mayroon sila ay wala,” she said.

“Mayroon talagang hindi qualified based doon sa guidelines. Mahirap ipaintindi ang dapat maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan. Mga tricycle drivers ay naghahabol din po,” Miguel added.

Fund for financial assistance

Budget officer Regina Cantillo said that the city government’s budget of P2,200 per family was based on P1,500 in cash assistance and 20 kilos of rice.

“P1,500 na cash at 20 kilos na bigas then nireccommend ko na wag ng bigas at cash na lang. estimated na 35 per kilo times 20 is 700 kaya po P2,200,” Cantillo explained.

“Pinaghahandaan na po namin yan [ang possibleng pagtaas ng kaso at pamimigay ulit ng ayuda],” she said.

City councilor Victor Oliveros also warned of the possible increase of COVID-19 cases and there will be a shortage of funds for financial assistance.

“Maaring lumubo ang cases natin. Kulang na kulang po ang ayuda natin ngayon pa lang sa limang bgy. May prosposal pa na isailalim sa hard lockdown ang ibang barangays. Hindi lang ang hindi nabigyan kundi yong hard fact na maaring talagang lumubo ang kaso. Baka dumating pa sa punto na isailalim ang lima pang barangay,” Oliveros said.