Press Release
January 22, 2018

DSWD manpower woes may stall TRAIN rebates

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today said the manpower lack in the Department of Social Welfare and Development must be fixed first before the agency can take in 5.5 million new families who shall be enrolled in the TRAIN rebate scheme.

The 5.5 million households, who are not listed in the government's Conditional Cash Transfer program, will get P200 per month from the government to help them weather the impact of new taxes on the cost of living,

They will join 4.5 million presently enrolled CCT families whose monthly stipends will also be increased by P200 - bringing to 10 million the number of families who will be aided so they could cope with TRAIN-triggered hikes in the prices of goods.

While the 2018 national budget lodges the P24.5 billion in TRAIN rebates with the Land Bank of the Philippines, "we all know that it is just being parked here."

"Wala namang capacity ang Land Bank na tukuyin ang mga tatanggap. The DSWD rank-and-file will have a say on how it will be disbursed," he said.

But Recto warned DSWD - who will in effect serve at least 55 million clients this year- "will have so much on its plate that it will be hard-pressed to serve more people."

"The identification of beneficiaries alone is already a major production. Hindi pa kasama ang delivery ng financial aid," Recto said.

Recto said the agency only has 2,842 regular employees to serve a clientele base of 28 million, on whom P137.5 billion will be spent this year.

"Since 2010, the budget of DSWD has ballooned eight-fold, but its manpower grew by 10 percent only," Recto said.

"Dahil sa TRAIN beneficiaries, na mas marami kaysa sa CCT enrollees, nadoble ang mga tinutulungan ng DSWD. Huwag nating sabihin na walang impact ito sa organizational capacity nito," Recto said.

To be able to meet its multiple mandates, DSWD has been forced to hire a large army of temporary employees numbering 25,122, "under an alphabet soup of hiring schemes."

"The result is that 9 in 10 DSWD employees are non-permanent. Marami sa kanila, dekada na sa serbisyo, contractual pa rin. No security of tenure. Kaya nabansagan tuloy na endo capital of the government," Recto lamented.

Recto said the combination of the rapid expansion of beneficiaries and the freeze in manpower strength resulted in deficiencies.

The Commission on Audit has even recommended that DSWD suspend the enlargement of CCT until leakages in the system are plugged.

One case of duplicate entries in the roster of beneficiaries "led to the unauthorized release of grants amounting to about P335 million," COA said in a report released last year.

Another bad side effect of having a big budget and a small staff is that when funds are not liquidated by DSWD recipients, the responsible DSWD officers are the ones sanctioned, Recto added.

"Dahil maraming hindi na pwede pumirma ng releases, nade-delay ang implementation ng mga proyekto," Recto said. This, he said, is reflected in the DSWD's ability to spend allotments, having failed to obligate P23 billion from 2015 to middle of 2017.

Malacañang has announced that some P24.5 billion has been allocated in the 2018 national budget for TRAIN assistance, which are unconditional cash grants, to the poorest 50% of households identified by DSWD.

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