Sotto urges cash aid for those not covered by SAP

SENATE President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Tuesday urged local officials to give cash assistance to their constituents not covered by the Social Amelioration Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

​Sotto said the local government units can reimburse the amount from the national government once problems in the distribution have been settled.

He said most local government units can afford to shoulder the cash aid.

​"Abonohan mo (LGU) muna. Makakasingil ka naman sa gobyerno eh," Sotto said.

​"[During a crisis] 'Yung mga rules rules na ganiyan, bend ng konti. Kung puwede nga ibato na sa bintana 'yan e... 'Yung pera kikitain ulit ng gobyerno pero 'yung buhay ng tao hindi puwede ibalik," he further said.

​On Monday, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, the Senate leader's nephew, said the city government would cover poor families that are not on the national government's list for the 2-month subsidy.

​The Senate President said local government units should not worry about the availability of funds since the executive branch repeatedly assured senators that the country has enough money to help poor Filipinos weather the global pandemic.

​"Availability at kahandaan ang gobyerno, mayroon. Nagkakatalo sa distribution e," he said.

​At the same time, Sotto confirmed that he would seek an investigation into an apparent "backlog" in the distribution of cash aid to 18 million poor families during the coronavirus lockdown.

As of April 8, the social welfare department distributed P16.34 billion to 4.4 million families when the budget department released P101.5 billion, based on President Rodrigo Duterte's expenditure report to lawmakers.

​"The system should have been in place now if not for the red tape. I will urge the Senate to investigate why this is so when we resume [session]," Sotto said.

​"I don’t see any conflicts and the availability of funds... It is in the local level where the backlog is happening," he said.