THE House of Representatives will probe delays in the distribution of the government’s P200-billion cash aid to 18 million poor and near-poor households, a congressman said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Party-List Rep. Michael T. Defensor said Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano had authorized an inquiry “at the right time” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

The congressman, who heads the committee on public accounts, said the investigation would seek to address complaints from lawmakers and local government officials about the distribution delays.

Mr. Defensor said Congress had fast-tracked approval of the measure giving President Rodrigo R. Duterte special powers to deal with the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, including realigning funds.

“But problems were encountered in the implementation of the financial aid program,” he said.

He said the House would allow agencies to finish their tasks before the probe “to prevent the occurrence of similar issues in the future.”

“We have to have protocols for this. We cannot delay the support needed by our people. Other means such as electronic money transfer should be the standard to avoid contact,” he said.

Under the law, about 18 million households will get P5,000 to P8,000 in monthly aid in the next two months depending on the prevailing minimum wage.

Mr. Defensor noted that of the 18 million target households, only 10.3 million families have received the aid.

House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, said “inefficiencies” had hampered aid delivery to the poor.

Social Welfare spokeswoman Irene Dumlao did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comments. — Genshen L. Espedido