DSWD chief: Probe 4Ps cash grants going to Surigao cult

By Zaldy De Layola

September 21, 2023, 2:10 pm

<p>Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian <em>(File photo) </em></p>

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian (File photo) 

MANILA  – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has ordered an investigation into reports that a religious cult is allegedly getting half of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) financial aid.

Gatchalian's directive was primarily based on the privilege speech Monday of Senator Risa Hontiveros revealing the activities of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, including the supposed collection of the 4Ps cash grants from its member beneficiaries.

“We took inventory immediately of how many 4Ps households we have there. But obviously, these are initial numbers (because) it could not be in just one sitio but in more sitios. In Sitio Kapihan, for example, we have 74 households (who are) 4Ps beneficiaries. In Barangay Siring, we have 503 households," he said during the hearing on the DSWD’s proposed PHP207.37-billion budget for next year on Wednesday.

The 4Ps is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18.

Gatchalian said the DSWD is now working at getting their city and municipal links to pry into the well-being of 4Ps beneficiaries in the area.

He also told senators that the DSWD will also look into the beneficiaries of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) in the Caraga Administrative Region (Region 13), with focus on barangays and sitios that are within the area of influence of the alleged religious cult.

“Whenever we get allegations of AICS misuse, we take it seriously, and even here in the Central Office, in any of our Field Office,” he said, adding that the DSWD Caraga is already looking into the AICS track distribution in the area.

“We can do backtracking and our standard investigation tracks also… We will immediately copy-furnish the office of the (Senate) committee on the findings of the 4Ps as well as the AICS clusters,” he added. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)