10 June 2019

The Ministry of Social Services, together with other officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, met with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last week wherein the DBM committed to issue the Notice of Cash Allocation for the banner programs today, June 10, 2019. This means that the Ministry will have access to said funds within the week, as we do not expect any further delay in the transfer of funds since all documentary requirements have been complied with by the Ministry. With the forthcoming transfer, the Ministry intends to pay in full the delayed salaries and pursue the implementation of the banner programs.

The meeting last June 7, 2019 was held in order to thresh out some matters regarding the budget for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, including those that the Ministry was supposed to receive for the implementation of banner programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), i.e. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens Program (SocPen), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), and Recovery and Rehabilitation Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP). There have been no funds that had been downloaded for 2019, thereby causing delays in the implementation of activities that had earlier been scheduled and in the payment of salaries of workers engaged under said banner programs.

While continuing to follow up the release of funds, the Ministry, with the assistance of the Office of the Chief Minister, provided stop-gap measures to alleviate some of the financial difficulties of the workers. A modest financial assistance package of P7,800.00, together with some goods (e.g. rice and other food items), was given to each of the 1,280 workers of the banner programs.

The Ministry would like to clarify that the above financial assistance package of P7,800.00 given to the MOA workers of the banner programs is different from the P5,000.00 incentive given to the contractual and permanent employees of the Ministry. Said incentive was charged against the available funds for the Ministry as provided in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) after subjecting the same to accounting and auditing rules and regulations. As the same was based on the available funds of the Ministry, it was a much lesser amount than the P15,000.00 incentive released by the Office of the Chief Minister to its regular and contractual employees.

We recognize the hard work and dedication of the workers of the banner programs. We are fully aware that despite the five-month delay in the release of their salaries, they continue to work and serve numerous individuals, families and communities in the Bangsamoro. As such, the Ministry is committed to give them their due and will not take that away from them.

The Ministry reiterates its commitment to work on solutions, seek systematic changes in the budget release, and explore other modes of engagement with the Central Government in relation to these banner programs. The problems and challenges over the past few months have shown that there is really a need for stronger cooperation and partnership with Central Government in order for the autonomy in the Bangsamoro to work, especially in relation to programs, such as the 4Ps, SLP, SocPen, SFP, and RRPTP, which are designed and funded by the Central Government and implemented and directly supervised by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.