‘Loan sharks, DSWD bilking Yolanda victims’

A lawmaker on Sunday said officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development were conspiring with loan sharks preying on victims of Super-Typhoon “Yolanda” to deprive the latter of the billions set aside for them through the DSWD’s Emergency Shelter Assistance program.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap sought a House inquiry into reports received by his office that loan sharks and their financiers were working with unscrupulous DSWD officials on the local level to victimize ESA applicants.

Hicap said usurers would advance each ESA applicant the P30,000 that the DSWD is supposed to grant each beneficiary after deducting a 16-percent interest payment.

“The DSWD would then release the shelter assistance not to the beneficiary but directly to the loan shark or financier,” Hicap said.

In House Resolution 2322, Hicap said there are unreasonable restrictive guidelines, cases of political abuse and other anomalies in the implementation of the shelter program.

Hicap said delays in the release of shelter assistance funds were being caused by the DSWD’s restrictive guidelines, its incompetence and negligence, and reported cases of abuse and irregularity.

Hicap asked the House committee on good government and public accountability, chaired by Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, to invite the officials of the DSWD and non-governmental organizations working in the calamity areas to shed light on the matter.

Meanwhile, the national government has yet to receive about 75 percent of total Yolanda rehabilitation pledges, the Department of Budget and Management said over the weekend.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said of the total P73.30-billion foreign aid pledged for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-stricken provinces in Central Visayas, only 23.50 percent has been received by the national government.

“The problem is a significant portion have remained pledges and those that may have materialized have not been released directly to the Philippine government. And then, quite a number are donations in kind, [in the form of] hospital facilities or beds, medical equipment or medicine,” Abad said.

Abad said the country has received only about P17.23 billion out of the total pledges.

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