DEPARTMENT of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian ordered an investigation on reports that a religious cult is supposedly collecting the cash grant of its members who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The DSWD chief ordered the probe following the privilege speech of Sen. Risa Hontiveros Sept. 18 which detailed the activities of the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc., which the senator believed to be a religious cult in Surigao del Norte.
“We have taken stock of the privilege speech of the good senator, Madame Chair, and 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,” Gatchalian told senators during the hearing on the DSWD’s proposed P207.37-billion budget on Wednesday.
Gatchalian said that in Sitio Kapihan in Socorro, there are 74 households which are 4Ps beneficiaries. “In that barangay itself, Barangay Siring, we have 503 households,” he said.
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 maintained that as a matter of practice in the DSWD, “what is for the beneficiary is for the beneficiary.”
Gatchalian told the senators that the Department will also look into the beneficiaries of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) in the Caraga Administrative Region (Region 13), with focus on those barangays, sitios that are within the area of influence of the 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,” the DSWD chief said, adding that the Department’s Caraga regional director is already looking into the AICS track distribution in the area.
Sens. Hontiveros and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa both filed a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into the activities of the alleged religious cult Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc.