By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers on Thursday (March 19) called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to immediately come up with a clear protocol on how to distribute the social pension to indigent senior citizens and cash grants to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who do not have cash cards.
La Union 2nd district Rep. Sandra Eriguel, chairperson of the House committee on social services, counted on the DSWD to ensure that the vulnerable sectors, particularly the indigent senior citizens, will be given the necessary cash assistance during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“If they can speed up the process, the better,” she told the Manila Bulletin in a text message after DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista appealed to the affected program beneficiaries to allow them to come up with a protocol “in a matter of two days” to ensure their safety and that of the social workers assisting them during the payouts.
Eriguel earlier sought door-to-door delivery of the social pension for Indigent senior citizens.
For his part, Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, welcomed the DSWD’s decision to come up with guidelines “for the provision of social amelioration services that would further benefit families and individuals affected by this health crisis.”
“I’m all for that. Protocols have to be clear to protect everyone, especially because the seniors are highly vulnerable,” he said.
Bautista earlier said they will come up with a protocol “which is agreeable to the LGUs, and the same time, doable on the part of the DSWD.”
He assured the affected program beneficiaries that the DSWD, in close coordination with the local government units (LGUs), will bring the cash assistance to the beneficiary.
On Monday (March 16), the DSWD announced that it is temporarily suspending rom March 15 to April 14 “some activities of its programs and services” that require the meeting or gathering of beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
These include “the payouts of social pension to indigent senior citizens and Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) [beneficiaries]; Listahanan enumeration; and activities of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) particularly the administration of Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI).”
Also temporarily suspended were “over-the-counter payouts and distribution of cash cards; activities in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), and service delivery assessments.”
Bautista earlier assured the public that “social amelioration will not stop” amid the ECQ.
“It is during these trying times that the Department shows its compassionate care to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized,” he said, while recognizing, “that health is more valuable than anything else.”