No explicit rule on sanctions vs erring SAP beneficiaries

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

The government’s social amelioration program (SAP) is intended to help poor families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The SAP grant is supposed to be used in buying food and basic needs,” Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary for Specialized Programs Rhea Peñaflor said.

That’s why DSWD in Region 6 was dismayed with reports that some SAP beneficiaries were caught gambling in several parts of the region.

On April 23, four beneficiaries of the government’s emergency subsidy program and eight other persons were arrested in a police operation at a suspected illegal gambling den in Anilao, Iloilo.

Peñaflor said they violated the law against illegal gambling. But as to the specific provision under the SAP guidelines, she admitted that there’s no explicit rule on such act.

But Peñaflor said they are waiting for guidance from the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on the matter.

“Since ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) man kita sa gihapon, we are waiting for the guidance if these beneficiaries will still be entitled for the SAP grant on the second month because they don’t use it wisely,” she said.

While the number of these individuals is negligible, “it’s really sad because they undermine the purpose of the program,” Peñaflor said.

She stressed that the DSWD will not condone these acts and will look for ways on how to sanction these individuals.

“Let’s see how the agency will deal with that. There are so many families who are in need but some would choose to spend the little that they received on liquor and gambling. These are very irresponsible acts,” she added.

Meanwhile, DSWD-6 regional director Ma. Evelyn Macapobre further clarified that the agency’s implementation on SAP is based on guidelines.

Walang nakalagay sa provision ng guidelines tungkol dito kung mayroon silang ginagawa illegal like illegal gambling,” she said.

If they are deemed qualified to received the emergency subsidy, Macapobre said they will receive the cash.