Tulfo vows to go after 4Ps cash aid ‘racketeers’

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star
Tulfo vows to go after 4Ps cash aid âracketeersâ
Residents of Batasan in Quezon City receive cash aid at Quezon City Polytechnic Univesity from the government's social amelioration package on Aug. 12, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Some beneficiaries of the government’s cash assistance program will face criminal charges for allegedly misusing the financial dole-out, including for alcohol and gambling and for dealing with loan sharks.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Erwin Tulfo issued the warning on Monday in a TV interview as he revealed that countless families continue to draw from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps even if their children – the target beneficiaries of the program – had already graduated from school.

“We will file criminal charges. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to warn all 4Ps beneficiaries that they should not pawn their cash cards. For the loan sharks, what they are stealing is government money. You cannot get certain percentage for that,” Tulfo told “The Chiefs” on One News.

Tulfo said 4Ps cash cardholders whose dependents had already graduated should return their cash cards to the DSWD. He did not say how many they are.

“I am calling on those who graduated in 4Ps as beneficiaries to return their cash cards to the DSWD starting now. You know the policy, you know the requirements, if your children are already graduates in school, you have to return the cash cards because you are no longer qualified to receive assistance from the government,” Tulfo said.

He accused some beneficiaries of using the cash aid for buying non-essentials, including liquor.

“The 4Ps is not for gambling and liquor. To loan sharks, you cannot charge 30 percent from the 4Ps beneficiaries who are pawning their cash cards. That’s people’s money. You cannot steal that,” he said.

Tulfo said that based on advice from the DSWD legal department, “graduated” 4Ps beneficiaries can be charged with estafa if they fail to return their cash cards.

“We can also file charges of estafa against loan sharks because that is fraud. On the part of the beneficiaries, if you are continuously collecting money despite being not qualified anymore, that is also estafa,” Tulfo said.

“You are hoodwinking the government. That will be the initial charges according to our legal team. We will also study what other charges can be filed,” he added.

Lack of funds

Tulfo said that the P6.2 billion earlier released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the 4Ps was intended for distribution in three tranches, each covering two months beginning in March and April. He said lack of funds was hampering the release for the May-June period.

“That will be six months and P500 per month. The P6.2 billion is for first tranche. There are three tranches. We decided to make it two months per tranche because the P500 is very small,” Tulfo said.

“This administration is really looking for funds for the programs of President Marcos to be realized. The problem really is funds. As of now we have very little fund even here in the DSWD. We will feel that in the next few months,” Tulfo said.

He said the government is also working for the digitalization of the release of financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries to eradicate red tape and remove the involvement of politicians.

“During the release of financial assistance like the Special Amelioration Fund, it was done physically with DSWD personnel counting the P3,000 to P4,000 cash given to the beneficiaries. President Marcos wants to make the release to the beneficiaries fast and efficient – like sending it through cellphones with reference number or QR code where the beneficiaries can claim their financial assistance from 7-11 or other money remittance centers, unlike the old practice of DSWD personnel doing the payout,” Tulfo said.

He stressed that through digitalization, financial assistance would be released directly to the beneficiaries.

“It will no longer pass through the mayor or governor. We will conduct the dry run in the National Capital Region in the next 90 days. We are conducting negotiations with the private companies for the digitalization of the release of financial assistance or ayuda to qualified beneficiaries. If it will become successful in the NCR, we will do it nationwide,” Tulfo said.

“While the DSWD can do this alone, we will welcome any voluntary participation of the private sector. Any non-government organizations are welcome to help us,” Tulfo said.

Earlier, he said the department is willing to get help from private groups, including from the Angat Buhay Foundation of former vice president Leni Robredo.




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