NO MISUSE. Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista answers the missing fund allegation of Senator Manny Pacquiao during the Palace online press briefing on Monday (July 5, 2021). Bautista said the Social Amelioration Program funds are all accounted for. (Screengrab)

MANILA – StarPay, one of the financial service providers (FSPs) of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), distributed cash aid to beneficiaries not only through its app but via other conduits as well.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista explained in the virtual Palace briefing on Monday that it is one of the reasons why there were only 500,000 downloads as against 1.8 million beneficiaries, as alleged by Senator Manny Pacquiao.

The champion boxer said on Saturday that DSWD must account for missing SAP funds.

"Ang ibang benepisyaryo ay nakatanggap ng financial aid sa pamamagitan ng mga conduits na affiliated sa financial service provider for StarPay. Ang conduit nito ay maaaring (The beneficiaries have also received financial aid through conduits affiliated with our financial service provider StarPay. The conduit could have been) MLhuiller, USSC, and others," Bautista said.

The FSPs operated with their conduits as other beneficiaries of the SAP, according to data, do not own a smartphone, have data quality issues, or connectivity concerns.

Bautista said beneficiaries were provided with reference numbers so they can still cash out their SAP aid through FSP conduits.

"The reference numbers were from the FSPs. They were assisted by the DSWD Field Offices to disseminate those to the beneficiaries," he added.

Bautista also said he would like to know the source of the data of Pacquiao, who left for the United States hours after his supposed tell-all press briefing.

DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao told the Philippine News Agency that Pacquiao’s office has not reached out to them to access their data or transparency reports on the implementation of SAP.

The DSWD is also waiting for an invitation to attend hearings or inquiries on the missing fund accusations. (PNA)