Duterte wants female soldiers to help DSWD hand out aid | Inquirer News

Duterte wants female soldiers to help DSWD hand out aid

FOR ‘MILITARY INTERVENTION’? Quezon City residents wait in line in a school at Barangay Tatalon for cash aid under the government’s social amelioration program, in this photo taken on May 5. President Duterte wants female soldiers to help in the delivery of emergency cash aid to the poor in areas on lockdown, saying they have “more dedication [and] empathy.” —GRIG C.MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to enlist the help of female soldiers in ensuring the efficient distribution of cash assistance to 18 million poor families reeling from the new coronavirus crisis.

Areas no longer under enhanced community quarantine, however, will no longer receive the second tranche of the emergency cash aid. Only those in Metro Manila, Laguna province and Cebu City are eligible to receive the aid, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said in a text message to reporters.

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The President said he had met with Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista and ordered the former commander of the Philippine Army to ask for help from the military in distributing P200 billion in emergency subsidy for poor Filipinos.

Empathy of women

“I had a nightmare … In the distribution of the SAP (social amelioration program). I told you before that I’m afraid that this might get used for corruption. And it happened. Didn’t I tell you?” Mr. Duterte said in a televised address aired on Tuesday morning.

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The President said he had nothing against men. “I’m just saying women are more dedicated, especially if they think if the family needs it to feed the children. I like the empathy, the heart of women.’’

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the military would “secure the people giving cash. We will not handle the cash.”

The distribution of the social amelioration funds has been marred by delays and allegations of corruption by local officials.

Duterte even offered a P30,000 reward to tipsters who would give information about local officials pocketing the emergency subsidy meant for their constituents.

The handing out of the first tranche was supposed to have been finished by April 30, but the government extended this to May 10 upon the requests of local government.

On Monday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said 1,265 of the more than 1,600 local governments had met the May 10 deadline.

The local governments were told to finish liquidating the first tranche of the cash aid so that the DSWD could release the second tranche for poor families.

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Additional 5M beneficiaries

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the government will provide emergency cash subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 per family to some 18 million poor households for two months — April and May.

Duterte, however, later said he was authorizing an additional 5 million beneficiaries.

Bautista said those who appealed to be included on the list of beneficiaries would make up the additional 5 million.

“There was an appeals system, and [local governments] passed a list of wait-listed or left-out beneficiaries, or those qualified but not included in the first tranche,” he said.

Bautista explained that the budget would come from the funds meant for the second tranche of the aid, since there were now much fewer beneficiaries.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday assured the public that the government had enough funds for the aid even if a modified enhanced community quarantine would be implemented in Metro Manila, Laguna and Cebu City until May 31.

In a press briefing, Roque pointed out that the original P200 billion for the aid was meant to be distributed over a two-month period.

“Our funds for the cash aid are enough. We also have a list of funds from different agencies that can be realigned, and we can use it for COVID-19 activities,” he said.

WITH A REPORT FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE

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TAGS: Cash aid, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, DSWD, Rodrigo Duterte
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