The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) maintains that there are no pork barrel funds in its 2015 budget and that all budget allotments are properly broken down into corresponding programs and services.
This is in response to the issue raised by Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon on alleged budget insertions and presence of ‘pork barrel’ funds in government agencies including DSWD which has P401.5 million of alleged insertions for its protective services for individuals and families in especially difficult circumstances.
“I don’t recall that there is any insertion. The budget is broken down into clear expenditure items, except for the calamity funds because we don’t know what we’ll be spending for a calamity that is still to come. And the other one is our Assistance for Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) fund because we issue based on the application for assistance we receive,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman reiterated.
The Secretary explained that the P401.5 million “later released allotment” is part of the total budget approved by Congress for DSWD Protective Services for individuals and families in especially difficult circumstances.
Under the AICS, individuals in emergency or urgent situations seek assistance from the Department, where their needs are assessed by DSWD social workers. Among the needs being responded to by AICS are requests for assistance for medical needs, food, transportation or Balik Probinsya, burial, and education.
“No immediate breakdown can be provided for AICS as the provision of assistance is based on the need of the individuals, and DSWD cannot determine beforehand the number of people seeking help and the magnitude of their needs,” Sec. Soliman explained.
She, however, stressed that this does not mean that the funds cannot be accounted for.
For the assistance provided to individuals in crisis situations, these are in accordance with the assessment of the social workers on the needs and supporting documents submitted by clients in crisis like the social case study report, medical abstract, and certificate of indigency, among others.
Another measure to ensure that AICS funds are accounted for is the use of the Crisis Intervention Monitoring System (CRIMS), an online database system, to form part of the assessment of the worker based on the client’s previous records available in the CRIMS.
Fund accountability can also be established based on the levels of approval of designated officers that review and grant the release of assistance to clients.
All program expenditures are also audited by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Just recently when requests for educational aid peaked in June and July due to the opening of classes, DSWD attended to some 800-1,500 requests per day at the Central Office alone.
The DSWD takes public trust highly, and thus, adheres to the principles of transparency and accountability in program implementation.