By Zaldy De Layola

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Monday vowed to investigate reports that the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program was being used for political ends as indicated during a Senate hearing last week.

“We welcome the initial findings of the committee of Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa and the DSWD leadership vows to look into the leads that came out during the January 23 Senate hearing,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

He found it alarming enough that several witnesses from certain provinces told senators that a portion of the AICS they received from the DSWD’s regional field office personnel were being mulcted by persons who have been identified by the witnesses.

“We assure our senators and congressmen that the DSWD will take appropriate and legal actions if and when we have found out that there are guilty personnel in the agency,” he said.

Gatchalian said the DSWD does not tolerate wrongdoings especially when it comes to dispensing cash assistance to the poor and vulnerable sectors, who are most in need of social protection.

He said based on the reported “ayuda scam”, an extensive review of the agency’s implementing regulations for the conduct of its payout is underway with the intention of discouraging persons who may take advantage of the DSWD’s AICS beneficiaries.

Gatchalian has directed agency personnel to strengthen the grievance mechanism to report instances of fraud or even intimidation of its beneficiaries and personnel in the field offices. (PNA)