P3 million supplementary feeding program in Dagupan mishandled - Mayor

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DAGUPAN CITY, July 7 (PNA)--The 120-day supplementary feeding program for day-care center children in Dagupan City for school year 2012-2013 funded by P3 million from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was mishandled and its funding may have been misspent by the past city administration.

This was noted by Mayor Belen Fernandez when she learned that half of the P3 million allocated by DSWD to Dagupan City has not yet been spent and no liquidation has yet been made on the amounts spent by the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).

She was dismayed to know that the feeding program in Dagupan was implemented in violation of the guidelines set by the DSWD which provided that the food the supplementary feeding program that entitled one hot meal a day for 120 days must be cooked and served by parents themselves.

Under the guidelines set by DSWD, the next financial allocation for school year 2013-2014 will not be released if the previous fund allocation will not be liquidated 100 percent.

Iryn de los Reyes Cubangbang, information of the DSWD, also explained that under the guidelines, it should be the parents who will do the marketing (of food), cooking and serving of the hot meals to their children.

Each severely malnourished day-care center kid is entitled to a hot meal consisting of rice, viand and soup equivalent to P13 a day for 120 days only during regular days, Ms. Cubangbang said.

Mayor Fernandez noted that instead of delegating the feeding to the parents in accordance with the DSWD guidelines, the CSWDO in Dagupan instead contracted the city hall-based Asenso cooperative made up of city government in providing food to the day-care pupils.

She said Leila Natividad, officer-in-charge of the CSWDO, has a lot of explaining to do why only half of the P3 million allocated was spent for the supplementary feeding program which means they cut down the food intake of severely malnourished.

"What kind of results can we report to DSWD if we cut down the food of day-care pupils by one half?", Fernandez asked.

The feeding program involved not only the head of the CSWDO but also the city executive and the city treasurer to ensure that the funds were utilized properly.

Shortly after taking over as Mayor of Dagupan, Fernandez ordered a stop to Asenso cooperative in meddling with the supplementary feeding program for day-care pupils as its officers and members could be cited for conflict of interest punishable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The new mayor tapped City Nutrition Officer Leah Aquino to supervise the supplementary feeding program but must allow parents of day-care pupils to prepare their budgets, procure, cook and serve food.

She also ordered the city legal office to study the possibility of filing cases against present and former city officials for mishandling the feeding program bankrolled by DSWD.(LV Micua/Media ng Bayan)

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