THE SENATE finance committee handling the proposed social welfare budget for 2022 has been directed to reassess various programs and projects that could be streamlined to cut overhead costs.  

At Tuesday’s plenary session, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. said different programs under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) could have overlapping of beneficiaries.  

 “If we’re targeting the same beneficiaries, what’s the point of inventing so many programs? Let’s just expand to lessen administrative costs,” he said, citing 16 programs that appear to have similar purposes.   

Senator Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos, who defended the DSWD budget, agreed, saying “it’s like they are repeating the programs that are relevant.”  

“But with a separate budget,” Mr. Lacson added.  

Ms. Marcos specified the items that may have duplications upon the request of Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.  

“Those involving the NTF-ELCAC (The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) although not itemized separately, that’s the SLP (Sustainable Livelihood Program)… and the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) grant from OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) which is almost P1 billion,” she said.  

“We are also curious about the new PAMANA and the DSWD (local government)-led livelihood of P418 million,” she added.  

She added that previous numbers under the Balik Probinsya program were questionable, with P133 million spent for 206 family beneficiaries.  

“It would appear that half a million has been given to each beneficiary, that seems exceedingly generous.”  

Mr. Lacson reiterated his call for the DSWD to submit to the Senate a matrix specifying the goal of each program, intended beneficiaries, and program accomplishments.  

During the session, Mr. Drilon also noted that the House of Representatives is currently passing a bill to extend the 2021 General Appropriations Act. 

“My impression is that there are many programs which are duplicating each other and worse, these programs… will again be funded by the reenactment of the 2021 budget,” he said. 

“It bears review, indeed, in many cases,” said Ms. Marcos. “I think it’s very important that we tidy up this budget and make sure that it finally addresses certain laws… which until now have not been fully implemented.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan