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DSWD seeks understanding over aid snafu

/ 05:45 AM April 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista has asked for understanding for the shortcomings in the first few days of the implementation of the government’s two-month social amelioration program for low-income families.

Bautista said no system was perfect, but officials were working to address the problems in the distribution of the P5,000 to P8,000 monthly cash subsidy to 18 million low-income households, which is meant to help them cope after Luzon was placed under quarantine to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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“As I said, we cannot perfect in one week or two weeks the distribution or the identification of the target beneficiaries,” Bautista said in an interview over Radyo Pilipinas on Friday evening.

Address gaps in program

He said the health crisis happened suddenly, so the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was coordinating with local government units (LGUs) to study and identify ways to address gaps and shortcomings in the social amelioration program.

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“This is why I advise all our target beneficiaries to have some understanding for the past few days, because nobody wanted the distribution of the aid to happen that way,” he said. He also encouraged the public to keep watch over the distribution of the cash subsidy and report those who would abuse these funds meant for the poor.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had vowed to suspend local officials involved in irregularities in the distribution of the aid, he said.

Some families have complained against the slow distribution of the emergency cash assistance, while Metro Manila mayors lamented that the amounts given to them for this was based on a 2015 census and was not enough for the poor families on their list.

Bautista said local government officials must identify the homeless families and street dwellers in their areas and register them with the barangays so they could receive the cash assistance.

He said the barangay or the City Social Welfare and Development Office should identify and certify that a family is homeless or belongs to the vulnerable sector.

Aid based on LGU list

“We believe that the barangay knows the people in their areas and could attest to their status in life,” he said.

These homeless or street persons need to be registered to a barangay so they could be given a social amelioration card and be made a priority, he said.

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“The basis of the aid we would give is the list to be prepared by the local government unit,” he added.

The LGUs would also be the ones to propose the distribution point or strategy in giving out the assistance to the beneficiaries, he added.

Senators have asked the executive department to fast-track the implementation of the social amelioration program and other programs to help vulnerable sectors cope with the effects of the Luzon-wide quarantine.

Sen. Pia Cayetano said the DSWD should also provide a more detailed update on the implementation of this program, one that provides the number of beneficiaries, the areas covered and the amount spent.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, DSWD aid, Rolando Bautista
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