DSWD probes ‘Socorro cult’ getting 4Ps cash grants, members’ pensions
MANILA, Philippines — Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian said they are now investigating reports of an alleged cult in Surigao del Norte supposedly collecting the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and other cash grants of its members.
“What is for the beneficiary is for the beneficiary. No government official, no private individual can take what is given directly to the beneficiary,” said Gatchalian on Wednesday during the Senate committee on finance’s hearing on the proposed budget of DSWD for 2024.
During the hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Gatchalian if 4Ps beneficiaries in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, are being monitored after testimonies came out that an alleged religious cult — the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. — has been collecting the government cash grants of its members.
These cash grants are as follows:
- Senior Citizen Pension
- Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS)
Hontiveros stressed that if there is truth to these allegations and claims, the Philippine government might be funding a cult.
“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 4Ps household beneficiaries. In that barangay itself, Barangay Siring, we have 503 households,” said Gatchalian.
According to Gatchalian, DSWD is now working at getting their “city links” and “municipal links” to pry into the well-being of 4Ps beneficiaries in the area.
Gatchalian added that DSWD Undersecretary for Operations Monina Josefina Romualdez has already directed the department’s regional director to look into the AICS distribution in the area.
“We will look into the beneficiaries of AICS in that region, particularly zeroing in on those [barangay] sitios that are in the periphery of the site. And then we can do backtracking and our standard investigation tracks also,” said Gatchalian.
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