Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman vowed that the Department will find out who are responsible for abusing the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) program, and will file the appropriate criminal and administrative charges against these persons.
This came after Ted Failon exposed the modus-operandi of some individuals who exploit beneficiaries of ESA by exposing them to loan sharks.
Failon mentioned some cases in Estancia, Iloilo where beneficiaries were duped to loan their shelter assistance with 16 percent interest from a financier allegedly recommended by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer.
The ESA is provided to qualified families affected by Typhoon Yolanda, with P10,000 for partially damaged houses and P30,000 to those with totally damaged houses.
The ESA is released by the agency through the local government units (LGUs) as part of the rehabilitation efforts to help ‘Yolanda’ survivors rebuild their homes.
Sec. Soliman expressed her disappointment, “Naiinis akong isipin na nagtagal na ngang ibigay eh pagsasamantalahan pa nila yung pantulong sa mga nasalanta. Meron na tayong mga taong nag-iimbestiga at nangangalap ng ebidensiya (I am disappointed. I cannot accept how they can afford to take advantage of the helpless beneficiaries. We already assigned some personnel to investigate and gather the necessary evidence).”
On the issue that there are unqualified beneficiaries of ESA, Sec. Soliman explained that DSWD is now conducting a re-validation particularly on those families who were not in the first masterlist.
“We were told that there were families who left their place after the typhoon but have returned when they learned about the housing assistance,” Sec. Soliman said.
She added that DSWD is doing home assessments to validate the claim for totally or partially damaged houses.
“We will retrieve the cash assistance provided once proven that the beneficiaries who received these are not deserving,” she emphasized.
She also shared that they sought the help of LGUs in identifying the beneficiaries since they know who among their constituents are qualified beneficiaries.
Sec. Soliman also mentioned that ESA distribution will hopefully be completed by September 10 to prevent this from being politicized.
When asked how the ESA is being audited, Sec. Soliman shared that there are two auditing levels for the program.
First is the DSWD-initiated audit done through spot checking of ESA distribution and grievance.
Second is the auditing done by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Sec. Soliman also cited the media as a partner in monitoring program implementation. She urged the media to immediately report irregularities that they know of.