An isolated incident was reported to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on the distribution of fake rice in Bantayan Island, Cebu last month. According to the report, six (6) 4Ps beneficiaries who received the fake rice felt ill after consuming the goods allegedly distributed through the program after a scheduled pay-out.

Because of this incident, the department has issued a statement emphasizing that the rice subsidy grant given to complaint Pantawid beneficiaries are given in a form of cash and not through distribution of actual rice. This is in compliance with the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) provision.

Regional Information Officer of DSWD-7, Leah Quintana, said that the department did not and does not engage in any rice distribution activity in relation to the provision of rice subsidy to Pantawid beneficiaries in any part of the country.

“DSWD’s rice subsidy is given to the beneficiaries in a form of cash either through their cash cards or over-the-counter payment from our Landbank accredited conduits. We did not distribute rice nor do we provide actual rice to the recipients of rice subsidy during pay-outs. It is always in a form of cash,” Quintana said in an interview.

DSWD also added that the beneficiaries of rice subsidy-cash grant have the prerogative where to purchase rice/goods for their consumption and that the department does not endorse any rice retailers for that matter.

The department, together with the National Food Authority (NFA), had conducted an investigation on the reported incident. Samples of rice were taken from the beneficiaries for investigation purposes and it was found out that the samples were indeed real rice and not fake as initially reported.

Meanwhile, DSWD urges the public to report any suspicious activities that are not formally announced by the department. Furthermore, DSWD warns the public not to immediately believe unverified news especially on social media as this may be hoax and may cause alarm to many.

Complaint beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program receive P600 monthly rice subsidy on top of the regular cash grants intended for health and education. Orientations, seminars and skills development trainings are conducted among Pantawid beneficiaries on how to manage their finances, resources and family during the monthly Family Development Sessions conducted by the City/Municipal Links in coordination with the Barangay Local Government Unit and other partner stakeholders.

Pantawid Pamilya is only one of the poverty reduction strategies of the national government implemented by the DSWD, which focuses on human capital investment through provision of health and education cash grants to eligible poor households with children 0-18 years old, with the primary aim to break the inter-generational poverty cycle.