By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) committed on Sunday (March 29) to provide emergency subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 for two months, as well as livelihood assistance grants to the low-income households affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The DSWD said an eligible family will receive the emergency subsidy “in cash and in kind” from various national government agencies as provided under Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020.
“The emergency subsidy program includes the DSWD’s provision of food and non-food items (FNFI) and financial assistance through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) as well as those provided by other agencies, provided that the benefits received by each household does not exceed the prescribed threshold per region,” DSWD said in a statement.
The amount to be received by the vulnerable sectors during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic is based on the maximum subsidy per region determined from the region’s minimum wage levels.
The social amelioration measures are contained in the Joint Memorandum Circular forged by DSWD, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on Friday night that the Inter-Agency Task Force has approved the social amelioration package benefitting the 18 million low-income households.
The DSWD explained that the agency’s distribution of FNFI is part of its technical assistance and resource augmentation (TARA) to local government units (LGUs) to address the needs of their constituents; while under AICS, individuals and families in crisis situations are given financial assistance to assist them with their basic needs.
The DSWD also said it will provide livelihood assistance grants (LAG) to beneficiary-families of its sustainable livelihood program (SLP), provided that at least one family member works in the informal sector and is displaced following the government’s imposition of the community quarantine.
“The family must be in the master list endorsed by the LGU to the DSWD Field Office (FO) and must still undergo assessment by a DSWD staff,” DSWD said.
“The LAG will be given after the quarantine period has been lifted to help the families start anew.”
The DSWD said it is the LGUs’ responsibility to prepare and endorse the list of the target beneficiaries with the complete documentary requirements to the concerned DSWD-FO for verification.
“A social amelioration card (SAC) that captures the family profile will be distributed to the LGUs to enable the beneficiaries to access the assistance. It will also serve as a monitoring tool to avoid duplication of delivery of services,” it said.
The DSWD said the existing list of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program will be used to validate the list submitted by LGUs.
It reassured the 4Ps beneficiaries that they will also be supported with a top-up on their grants and rice subsidy to reach the maximum benefit per region.
“4Ps beneficiaries are most vulnerable to economic, social, and physical shocks such as this health crisis, thus, the need to augment their existing grants to help them with their daily needs,” she said.
DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao said considering that the poor are the “most vulnerable” during this time of national health emergency, the 4Ps beneficiaries will receive a “top-up fund” to reach the cash subsidy benefit as provided under RA 11469.
As of January 31, 2020, there are more than 4.2 million active 4Ps beneficiaries.
“The social amelioration measures will help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 health crisis and the enhanced community quarantine to the target beneficiaries, particularly the senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating mothers, solo parents, overseas Filipinos in distress, indigent indigenous peoples, homeless citizens, and the informal economy workers,” the DSWD said.
“DSWD commits to strengthen its coordination with the LGUs to provide the delivery of maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo (immediate and caring service) to the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged, while putting a premium on the health and safety of its beneficiaries and personnel in this time of public health emergency.”