By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu – Reporter /INQUIRER.net / July 03, 2021
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Manny Pacquiao on Saturday claimed that several government transactions were marred by corruption, mentioning, in particular, the distribution of social amelioration program (SAP) subsidies through the use of e-wallets.
Pacquiao said in a briefing that Starpay, an e-wallet application used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has failed to distribute the SAP fully — with P10.4 billion of the social aid missing even though it was noted that all of the payouts have been completed.
“Bilyong-bilyong halaga ang inutang ng ating pamahalaan na nilaan para sa ayuda ng ating mga kababayan na nawalan na ng mga kabuhayan. Naglaan po ang ating gobyerno ng P207.6 billion para sa pangalawang SAP,” Pacquiao said.
(Our government borrowed billions of money to fund the social amelioration program for our countrymen who lost their livelihood. The government allocated P207.6 billion for the second SAP.)
“Mr. President, alam niyo po ba na sa kabuuang halaga na ito ay may nilaan na P50 billion more or less ang Department of Social Welfare and Development para lamang sa isang hindi po kilala na e-wallet na kung tawagin ay Starpay na may build-up capital lamang po na P62,000,” he added.
(But Mr. President, do you know that part of this amount, around P50 billion, was allocated by the DSWD to a relatively unknown e-wallet application platform called Starpay, which had a build-up capital of only P62,000.)
Pacquiao said that out of the 1.8 million beneficiaries who would access the SAP through the said application, only 500,000 were able to receive the assistance. The remaining 1.3 million, the senator said, did not receive the payouts.
“Batay sa aking imbestigasyon Mr. President, lumalabas sa initial po na disbursement sa Starpay account para sa 1.8 million beneficiaries na katumbas ay P14 billion. Kung tutuusin maganda po ang layunin ng paggamit ng e-wallet para sa distribution ng SAP, maiiwasan kasi ang kalakaran na ang pera ay mauuwi sa bulsa ng mga kawatan,” Pacquiao said.
(According to my investigation, Mr. President, it appears that the initial disbursement for the Starpay accounts for the 1.8 million beneficiaries amounts to over P14 billion. If you think of it, the goal of using an e-wallet for distributing SAP is a good idea as it prevents the practice of letting corrupt officials handle the money.)
“Bakit sa 1.8 million na binigyan ng SAP mula sa Starpay, 500,000 lamang po na katao ang na-download nito. Sa mga hindi po nakaka-alam, hindi ka pwedeng mag-receive or mag-withdraw kung wala kang nada- download na Starpay app. Ang tanong ko po, anong nangyari sa 1.3 million katao na hindi naka-download ng Starpay app pero sa record po, nakatanggap na po sila,” he added.
(Why is that only 500,000 out of the 1.8 million beneficiaries have downloaded this? For those who do not know, you cannot receive or withdraw any amount if you do not download the Starpay app. My question is, what happened to the 1.3 million beneficiaries who were not able to receive the Starpay app — but on the record, received the payouts?)
Aside from DSWD, Pacquiao mentioned that other government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Energy (DOE) are also affected by corruption.
Pacquiao claimed that the DOH has been procuring medicines that are near expiration at a regular price when these should already be priced lower.
“Sa DOH naman po, tungkol sa DOH, marami pong issue dito sa DOH, unang-una po ay bumibili ito ng mga malapit nang mag-expire na gamot. Binibili nila ang mga gamot na ito sa regular price samantalang dapat ay bagsak na ang presyo ng mga ito,” Pacquiao said.
“Hindi na ito mapapakinabangan ng mga kababayan natin dahil sa naabot na nga ito ng expiration, at iilan lang po ang napapakinabangan,” he added.
As for the DOE, Pacquiao mentioned the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, which he said allegedly receives part of the payments made by consumers for electricity.
“Alam niyo po rin po ba, na sa issue dito sa DOE, sa bawat kilowatt-hour na binabayaran ng bawat Pilipino sa kanilang kuryente, ay may halos kalahating sentimo na napupunta sa isang pribadong kumpanya na itinayo sa pamamagitan lamang ng P7,000 na build-up capital,” the Senator said.
“Bilyon-bilyon ang halaga ang nakakamal ng kumpanyang Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, IEMOP na siyang binigyan ng kapangyarihan ng Department of Energy bilang independent electricity market operator,” he added.
Pacquiao’s presentation comes after he and President Rodrigo Duterte traded barbs over the former’s claims that the government is riddled by corruption. Duterte said he would campaign against Pacquiao if he could not name the agencies involved and provide evidence.
Pacquiao accepted the President’s challenge, saying that the government can start with the Department of Health (DOH) and its COVID-19 pandemic response.
Pacquiao is rumored to be running for president in the 2022 polls with other Duterte allies to include Duterte’s daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Senator Bong Go, and former senator Bongbong Marcos.
PDP-Laban officials loyal to Duterte like Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who is the party’s vice-chairperson, have indirectly asked Pacquiao to leave the party. Cusi also joked that the PDP in the party stands for President Duterte’s Party — a joke that Pacquiao did not find funny.