MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte spent P4.87 billion of his President's Social Fund (PSF) in 2017, with a bulk of it going to "Other Special Assistance," according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report.
This type of assistance is not clearly defined in the COA report on the Office of the President's expenses for the year 2017.
The document also shows that the next type of assistance to get the most funds from the PSF (referred to in the report as Socio-Civic Projects Fund or SCPF) is assistance for soldiers and police.
"Special Assistance for Uniformed Personnel" got P305 million of the PSF.
In total, there were 3,054 incidents of financial assistance given.
The breakdown of the fund is as follows:
Even in the time of previous presidents, the PSF often went to wounded soldiers and police or the families of soldiers and police who died in action.
The PSF is also used to provide assistance to calamity victims.
In 2017, Duterte frequently visited soldiers wounded from action during the 5-month Marawi siege or from clashes with communist rebels. He also often visited wakes of soldiers and police who died implementing the anti-drugs campaign. During these occasions, he always gave financial assistance to the security personnel or their families.
For instance, in a visit to soldiers wounded in Marawi, he gave each of them P110,000, plus pistols and cellular phones. In military camp visits, he has also given away watches.
Duterte even promised a trip to Hong Kong for Marawi soldiers, particularly the women, but it's not clear if the PSF was used for this purpose.
The PSF or SCPF is sourced from net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and is a special funding platform used by the President to provide direct assistance to “social development-oriented priority projects, particularly those that serve very poor communities,” reads the COA report.
As an off-budget item, the PSF is subject to audit but not to congressional approval.
The OP under Duterte issued general guidelines for the management and administration of the fund in December 2016 which enumerated the types of assistance that can be given and limitations on the amounts of the assistance.
Each instance of medical assistance should not exceed P50,000 while burial assistance must not exceed P30,000. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.