Gov’t may stop cash aid for drug users, gamblers

Gov’t may stop cash aid for drug users, gamblers

MANILA – The government can discontinue handing out financial aid to persons found to be engaging in illegal drugs, gambling and other unlawful activities, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

In a press statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the cash aid given by the government through the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to households in dire need may be viewed as a donation subject to a condition that the amount should be used to buy food and other essentials to help the recipient during a calamity or emergency.

“(W)hen the recipient violates this condition and spends the money for something else, or worse, for something illegal, the donation is forfeited and he becomes morally obligated to return the money given. In addition, he makes himself ineligible to receive any further act of generosity from the giver,” Guevarra said.

There have been reports of illegal cockfighting as well as the purchase of illegal drugs in communities where financial aid has been distributed by the government amid the enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Guevarra said the SAP is subject to certain conditions just like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

For instance, minor children of the 4Ps recipient family should be sent to school and if this is not complied with, the cash assistance is discontinued.

He, however, conceded that requiring the return of the money by those who chose to use it for illegal activities instead of necessities is unlikely.

“(We can) forget about refunds. Malabo na yan. Mahirap nga yung tao eh (It is unlikely since the person is poor). Moral obligations are based on universal principles of human relations,” he said. Benjamin Pulta /PNA – northboundasia.com