Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has issued a directive for a comprehensive investigation into reports of a religious cult allegedly siphoning off a significant portion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) financial aid.
The decision comes in response to a startling revelation made by Senator Risa Hontiveros during her privilege speech on Monday, shedding light on the activities of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) in Socorro, Surigao del Norte.
In her speech, Senator Hontiveros exposed alleged irregularities surrounding the SBSI, including its purported involvement in the collection of 4Ps cash grants from its member beneficiaries.
The 4Ps program, aimed at alleviating poverty among marginalized Filipino families, provides financial assistance to eligible households to cover educational, health, and nutritional needs.
The allegations suggest that SBSI, a religious organization based in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, is exerting undue influence over its members, compelling them to surrender a significant portion of their 4Ps financial aid to the organization. This revelation has raised concerns about the potential exploitation of vulnerable individuals who rely on these government subsidies to meet their basic needs.
Secretary Gatchalian’s directive orders the DSWD to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations, including the extent of SBSI’s involvement in the collection of 4Ps grants, the number of beneficiaries affected, and the mechanisms through which the organization exerts control over its members’ financial assistance.
In a statement issued by the DSWD, Secretary Gatchalian emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the integrity and transparency of social assistance programs.
He stated, “The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a vital safety net for our impoverished citizens, and any attempts to exploit or divert these funds are unacceptable. We will leave no stone unturned in investigating these allegations and ensuring that justice is served.”
Senator Hontiveros, who brought this issue to the forefront, expressed her gratitude for the swift action taken by the DSWD.
She said, “It is our duty to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, and this investigation is a step in the right direction. We must ensure that every peso of government assistance reaches its intended recipients.”
The alleged involvement of a religious organization in the distribution of government financial aid has sparked concerns among various sectors. Critics argue that it highlights the need for enhanced oversight and accountability measures to protect the beneficiaries of social welfare programs.
The investigation is expected to shed light on the extent of the SBSI’s involvement in the 4Ps program and determine whether any legal actions need to be taken against the organization or its leaders. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilance in safeguarding the interests of those who depend on government assistance to improve their quality of life.
As the investigation unfolds, the nation will be watching closely, hoping for a just resolution that ensures the 4Ps program continues to serve its intended purpose of uplifting the lives of the most vulnerable Filipino families.