Local officials gripe against ‘quota system’ for cash aid
MANILA, Philippines — Several local governments aired complaints on Saturday against a “quota system” being imposed in the distribution of social amelioration funds to help tide over their poor constituents during the national health emergency triggered by the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under the quota system, each municipality or city will be given a fixed amount from the P200-billion Social Amelioration Program (SAP) fund based on the Department of Finance’s data from the 2015 census, officials who posted complaints on social media said.
They said, however, that the number of beneficiaries they were supposed to give money to was far smaller than those who were qualified to receive the cash assistance.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, a former mayor and representative of Valenzuela, decried the system of quotas on his Twitter account.
“In our 2015 census, Valenzuela has 155,00 families. I just learned that DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) will give the P8,000 to only 95,000 families in Valenzuela. What will happen to the remaining 60,000 families? What are the qualifications to be included in the 95,000 quota?” Gatchalian said.
He added that the system would surely anger residents, who would be forced to leave their homes to complain, rendering the community quarantine useless. The barangay and local government officials will then be blamed for this, he added.
Appeal to DSWD
Malabon Mayor Len Len Oreta said his city was allocated only 44,032 out of the roughly 86,000 families in his city.
“COVID-19 spares no one, rich or poor. Every family deserves aid from the government in these extraordinary times. No one should be left behind,” he said.
The Muntinlupa City government made public a memo issued to them by the DSWD which showed that the city has been given P430.6 million for only 53,636 households. The city already had more than 100,000 households back in 2015.
Parañaque received a quota of 77,764 out of around 160,000 households. Manila, with 435,237 households, got 185,000 and Cainta, Rizal province, was given 37,145 out of 71,463 households recorded in 2015.
On her Facebook account, Mayor Andeng Ynares of Antipolo said the DSWD gave her city a limited number of bar-coded forms for social amelioration cards which were used to redeem the cash assistance.
“We decided to appeal to the DSWD to give us more so that more of our constituents would benefit and this is because our understanding that, according to our beloved President … all families should be given [aid],” she said.
P200B for 18M households
She added that she had learned that “all cities and municipalities in the country are experiencing the same” problem and that only about half of the households had been given SACs.
DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao has not responded to the Inquirer’s request for comment as of press time.
The P200-billion fund had been set aside by Congress under Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which spelled out measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The money is supposed to be distributed to 18 million households, including 4.2 million verified beneficiaries of the government’s flagship antipoverty scheme Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Those qualified to receive the cash aid will get between P5,000 to P8,000 monthly for two months. These amounts are based on the prevailing wage rates in the regions where they are located, with Metro Manila getting the biggest.
Land Bank release
The DSWD earlier on Saturday said many 4Ps beneficiaries from the National Capital Region, the Cordillera Administrative Region, Region 1, Region 2, Region 3, Calabarzon and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao received their subsidies as early as Friday.
In a statement, the Land Bank of the Philippines said it has released the funds to 1,196,634 household-beneficiaries in these regions.
Land Bank added that from Friday to Sunday, it expected to release a total of P16.3 billion to 3.7 million 4Ps beneficiaries nationwide, through their Land Bank ATM cards.
The money may be withdrawn from the 2,196 Land Bank ATMs nationwide and the more than 20,000 ATMs of Bancnet member banks free of charge.
The beneficiaries may use their cash cards to purchase goods from groceries and drugstores or withdraw money from the bank’s partner Cash-out Agents, it said.
The bank said that on Saturday, 1.29 million beneficiaries in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula would receive a total of P5.26 billion.
By Sunday, P5.01 billion aid will be distributed to 1.23 million households in Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and Caraga. —WITH A REPORT FROM BEN O. DE VERA
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