By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday refuted a Mindanao congressman’s allegation that the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program is being used to secure signatures for the People’s Initiative (PI) to amend the constitution.
“We at the DSWD vehemently refute such allegations in the light of the issues surrounding the people’s initiative utilizing AICS and other government programs. Reports connecting AICS to the people’s Initiative is an outright falsehood and a misrepresentation of DSWD programs,” DSWD Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez said in a statement.
Lopez, also the DSWD spokesperson, was referring to a statement issued Thursday by Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez that AICS is one of the government programs being used to secure the signatures of registered voters in his province.
“Since its establishment, the DSWD and its social welfare programs, including AICS, have been protected against this kind of misuse with all agency personnel strictly adhering to existing rules and regulations in the conduct of payouts to our beneficiaries,” Lopez stressed.
He assured that the thousands of dedicated workers of the agency would continue to be apolitical, dispensing all kinds of assistance within the bounds of existing guidelines and regulations.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs conducted an inquiry into reports of alleged pilferage of the agency’s cash aid in Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte provinces.
DSWD Undersecretary for Legislative Liaison and Coordination Group Fatima Aliah Dimaporo told the senators that agency personnel have no involvement in the allegations that parts of the cash aid received by the beneficiaries were “forcibly taken” from them by unidentified individuals.
Dimaporo emphasized that the sole responsibility of the DSWD personnel during payout activities is the disbursement of financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries who meet the requirements.
The AICS program provides financial and material assistance to support the recovery of individuals and families from unexpected crises such as illness or death of a family member, among others. (PNA)