P65-M ‘fixed crises’-A A +A
Saturday, September 14, 2013
AT LEAST P65.4 million in pork barrel funds this year paid for hospital bills and other social services in Cebu, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) records show.
Some beneficiaries cautioned against calls to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), unless steps are taken to make sure that those who need food, skills training or money to pay hospital bills have somewhere to turn for help.
Zalde Dahoya, 38, of Barangay Busogon, San Remegio approached yesterday the medical assistance desk of Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, 4th District) in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
His five-year-old daughter needed surgery after a fall caused a blood clot to appear in her head. Dahoya initially received P6,000 as medical assistance, but may get a total of P20,000.
“Mas maayo nga di ni kuhaon. Ingkaso mahitabo na, asa naman tawn dagan ang mga pobre, maam, sama nako? (The Pdaf should not be scrapped. In case it happens, where will the poor like me ask for help?),” Dahoya said.
Some P38.5 million from the PDAF paid for hospital bills of indigent patients in Cebu this year, according to DBM records. (See graphics)
A separate P26.9 million from four Cebuano lawmakers went to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7, also this year.
The amount was intended for the implementation of DSWD’s Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS).
Calls to abolish the PDAF were triggered by accusations that billions went to non-
existent non-government organizations, allegedly organized by Janet Lim Napoles.
The Supreme Court recently issued a temporary restraining order on the release of the
PDAF, while it hears petitions filed against the pork barrel system.
For DSWD, the pork barrel funds it receives are either used to give financial assistance to “individuals in crisis situations” or transferred to local governments.
The CIDSS is the umbrella program of all social services offered by DSWD, Ligaya Dael, officer-in-charge of the DSWD 7 Crisis Intervention Unit, told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.
She said the agency receives pork barrel funds to implement lawmakers’ “soft projects,” which include financial assistance to indigents, livelihood training and feeding programs.
As of Sept. 11, 2013, the DBM website reveals that Salimbangon allocated P4 million for the CIDSS, while former Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) gave P10.9 million.
Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI (Cebu, fifth district) and Rep. Cutie del Mar (Cebu City,
north district) allocated P2 million and P10 million, respectively.
After receiving a Special Allotment and Releases Order (Saro) from the DBM, Dael said they would contact the lawmaker and ask what specific projects he or she would want the DSWD to use the funds for.
As to Dahoya, it was his second time to receive medical assistance from Salimbangon.
The first one was in the year 2008, when his wife gave birth to their daughter through a cesarean section.
John (not his real name) said his father received P25,000 in medical assistance from former Cebu City North District Rep. Cutie del Mar in July 2008.
John said this was directly given to the hospital for the medicines and hospital bills, after his father suffered from a stroke with complications and stayed in the intensive care unit for 3 weeks.
“Ing-ana kadako ang gamit sa Pdaf (PDAF has helped me a lot,) he said.
He said they did not pay any amount after another P25,000 was provided by the Cebu City Government, through its City Hospitalization and Medication Program.
Another beneficiary, Carl (also not his real name), said foundations and non-government organizations should not be included as the beneficiaries of the PDAF.
Carl said his family received P20,000 in burial assistance also from the PDAF of del Mar in December two years ago.
Yesterday, the PDAF coordinators of the Cebu lawmakers stationed in the Out-Patient Department of VSMMC received fewer requests of medical assistance.
Richie Heyrosa, PDAF coordinator of Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, 6th district), said it was not the usual scene when the congressman had still enough funds at the public hospital.
Heyrosa said they refer some patients to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office because the congressman does not have enough funds to accommodate all the patients who came to them.
“Probably there were fewer constituents who came because they knew that congressmen’s PDAF is on hold,” Heyrosa explained.
Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia’s PDAF coordinator Angie Flores said they still accommodate patients who need medical assistance, even though the National Government has not released any PDAF at all to Garcia.
Leny Bagol, also a PDAF coordinator of Garcia, said the former governor used her personal funds to assist patients with their medicines and lab tests.
“Maluoy gud mi kay kahibawo ka, ma’am, hilakan ka (We feel very sorry for these people. Some of them cry when they approach us),” Flores said.
The PDAF coordinator recalled that there were at least 80 persons who approached their desk during the time of former third district congressman Pablo John Garcia, brother of Gwen.
Yesterday, each Pdaf coordinator of the different congressmen received no more than 10 requests.
Salimbangon’s PDAF coordinator Celestino Momongon said each beneficiary received up to P20,000 in medical assistance. Fortunately, he said, there were still funds left at VSMMC for the constituents of the fourth district.
“Naproblema mi ba asa kaha ni ang mga tawo kon wagtangon ang PDAF (Where will the poor go if the PDAF will be abolished?),” Momongon said.
For an agency like the DSWD, PDAF releases from members of Congress also help fill the gaps in funding for social services.
The Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) releases cash assistance to individuals, while the DSWD’s Policy and Plans Division handles fund transfers to local governments in the lawmakers’ districts.
An individual has to present a referral letter from the lawmaker to receive financial assistance from the CIU.
Cash assistance is usually given for medical, burial and educational expenses.
LGUs that receive funds from DSWD need to submit a project proposal and sign a memorandum of agreement with the DSWD.
After the project is completed, the LGU should submit a liquidation report to the DSWD.
Dael said the CIU gives a monthly report to the lawmakers on the use of their funds.
The DSWD is the one that submits liquidation reports to the Commission on Audit.
Dael said the DSWD 7 also receives pork barrel from lawmakers outside the region.
Two lawmakers from Mindanao allocated part of their PDAF to the DSWD 7 to give medical assistance to their constituents who are hospitalized in Cebu.
“The PDAF is one of our sources of funds to help people in need. Our regular funding is limited,” Dael said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 14, 2013.