DSWD halts online requests for education aid

People line up at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) central office in Quezon City on August 20, 2022. Some people started lining up on Friday night after the agency announced earlier that students indigents across the country could find themselves between P1,000 to P4,000 in educational assistance under DSWD’s Crisis Assistance Program. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Ministry of Social Welfare and Development has stopped accepting online applications for education aid, DSWD spokesman ASec. Romel Lopez said Monday.

DSWD’s initial budget of 500 million pesos was estimated to help up to 200,000 students, but DSWD’s budget for educational aid soared to 1.5 billion pesos, allowing the program to benefit 400,000 students.

However, Lopez revealed that the DSWD now has 2 million applications for the education assistance program.

“Especially dami nga po, hindi na kaya ng sistema. Minarapat na ni secretary Erwin [Tulfo] it’s an online application,” Lopez said in an interview with Teleradyo.

(The number of applications overwhelmed our system, so DSWD Sec. Tulfo advised to stop accepting online applications.)

Of the 2 million, DSWD has to sort through duplicate submissions and applications in offices that do not match the locality of the applicant, adding to its already limited workforce that deals with program beneficiaries.

“‘Yan ang kasama sa nahihirapan kaming i-proseso ngayon. Dati ‘yung aming pag-reply sa kanila tumatagal lang ng 2-3 days, may natatanggap kaming reklamo, inaamin namin na ‘yung iba August pa nag-apply, isang buwan na hindi pa kami nakaka-answer,” Lopez said.

(We admit that we are struggling with the number of applications we have now. We used to be able to respond to an application within 2-3 days, but we have received reports where an applicant has waited longer than one month for reply from us.)

The processing of beneficiary applications has overwhelmed DSWD’s crisis response unit that runs the education aid program, so staff from other programs in the department are stepping in to help.

“Nakalulungkot man, talagang hindi na po kaya ng aming sistema,” Lopez added.

(We regret to say that our system can no longer handle the number of people who need help.)

Lopez assured that as long as there is budget left, the DSWD will continue to process applications for education aid. He hopes that an additional budget will be allocated by the national government to his initial 194 billion pesos.

“Historically, DSWD is not nababawasan ang pondo ng DSWD, bagkus ito a nadadagdagan (Historically, DSWD gets more than it delivers),” he explained.

The DSWD is also seeking funds from lawmakers to increase the agency’s budget for the education assistance program.

“Share funding. Ibigay na rin po natin sa ating mambabatas, kabisado nila ang kanilang locality, plus makakatulong ito na ma-identify natin ang the poorest for the poor, plus mapahaba ang pisi and plus mapalawak ang maabot ng educational assistance,” Lopez clarified.

(We hope to gain the support of members of Congress to fund the education assistance program in their localities. Coordinating with them would help us better identify the poorest of the poor and increase program budgets so that more people can benefit from it.)

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