DSWD should not leave cash aid distributions to LGU alone, says lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines – Local government units (LGUs) should not be left alone in distributing the cash aid due to the COVID-19 lockdown, a lawmaker told the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday.
According to Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, the discrepancy between the funds transferred to LGUs and the actual amount given to low-income families is a sign that the DSWD has to step in and help in the distribution.
As of April 27, DSWD said that they have transferred P80.7 billion to at least 1,515 LGUs nationwide, which translates to 98.8 percent of all the funds allocated to the social amelioration program (SAP). However, only P43 billion has been handed to the beneficiaries.
“More than a month since (the) emergency powers law, DSWD has yet to resolve huge backlog in the distribution of urgently needed assistance to low-income families,” Elago said in a message to reporters.
“Hindi sapat na nasa LGUs na ang pondo, kailangang tiyakin ng ahensya na naipamimigay na ito sa pamamagitan ng malinaw at consistent na patakaran, gayundin ang maagap na pagtugon sa mga naiuulat na suliranin hinggil sa validated list ng beneficiaries nito at iba pang hamon sa pagpapatupad ng SAP,” she added.
(It is not enough to deliver the funds to LGUs, the agency has to ensure that these are distributed through clear and consistent rules, including the immediate assistance to those who were reported to be outside the validated list of beneficiaries.)
Several issues in the provision of the social aid have been pointed out by beneficiaries, including an incident in Lucena City on Tuesday where residents queued up in distribution venues while disregarding physical distancing and curfew regulations.
This has prompted speculations whether LGUs were rushing to distribute the SAP, as Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reminded LGUs to comply with the April 30 deadline set by DSWD.
“Delays in government support is a grave cause of concern and consequence amid COVID-19 crisis. Sa gitna ng public health emergency, dapat mabilis makarating sa lahat ng apektado ang suportang nakalaan bilang panlaban sa gutom at sakit nang makasagip pa ng mga buhay,” Elago noted.
(Delays in government support is a grave cause of concern and consequence amid COVID-19 crisis. In the middle of a public health emergency, the response should be quick and should reach affected households to fight off hunger and sicknesses.)
Sa gitna ng public health emergency, dapat mabilis makarating sa lahat ng apektado ang suportang nakalaan bilang panlaban sa gutom at sakit nang makasagip pa ng mga buhay)
“Sense of urgency especially in providing government support to vulnerable sectors, and ensuring transparency and accountability with use of power and public funds, are needed to effectively roll-out health measures to combat COVID-19,” she added.
The SAP is a by-product of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020, which gave President Rodrigo Duterte powers to reallocate, realign, or reprogram items in the 2020 budget to COVID-19 response programs.
Under R.A. 11469, 18 million Filipinos would receive financial aid of around P5,000 to P8,000 per month, depending on the minimum wage in the region they are in.
The social aid is intended for workers who were affected when work was suspended under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) over Luzon and other areas. After the ECQ implementation, people who rely on daily earnings and those who cannot shift to a work-from-home scheme were left without income through the lockdown.
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