Senators question P26.7 billion ‘ayuda’ fund
MANILA, Philippines — About P26.7 billion worth of financial assistance under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was questioned by senators yesterday during the continuation of a public hearing on the people’s initiative or PI.
Sen. Imee Marcos, who presided over the probe by the committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, said she was surprised to learn of the P26.7-billion Ayuda Kita sa Kapos program. The DSWD said AKAP was not in the national expenditure program.
Marcos said a text message she received stated that “all soft projects including AKAP must go through the office of the Speaker, AKAP, AICS, TUPAD, MAIP for the PI and other efforts.”
Marcos, who sponsored the DSWD budget for 2024, was referring to Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) and the Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP) programs.
There was no immediate comment from Speaker Martin Romualdez.
“I understood AKAP was under the DSWD budget. If you recall, in the Senate, I handle the DSWD budget. But like the Comelec’s mysterious additional P12 billion, this P26.7 billion in the budget of the DSWD is alien to me,” Marcos said.
Sen. JV Ejercito said he was also surprised to hear about AKAP, a program unknown to senators who deliberated on the General Appropriations Act of 2024.
DSWD Undersecretary Fatima Aliah Dimaporo said that “AKAP is just as foreign to us.”
“It is not an exclusive project or program for Congress, but it is technically foreign in the sense that it has no guidelines yet, so it does not exist as a program,” Dimaporo said when asked by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa if Congress decided to fund the project or if the DSWD requested it.
When Marcos asked whether AKAP was included in the national expenditure program, Dimaporo replied, “No.”
“Do we allot enormous sums of money such as this almost P27 billion for a project or a program that is undefined, unnamed, unfamiliar with no guidelines whatsoever with no target beneficiaries, and is just left open? Is this the usual practice in the DSWD?” Marcos further pressed.
“Not necessarily, so sometimes DSWD has these