By Ellson Quismorio
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has proposed the use of a daunting but necessary house-to-house approach in delivering aid to the public as spelled out in the recently-enacted “Bayanihan to Heal as One” law.
This, as the top official of the House of Representatives called for the adoption of “out-of-the box solutions” to operationalize Republic Act (RA) No. 11469, which granted President Duterte with the special powers needed to address the economic and health problems brought by the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
Among the key features of the law is the distribution of emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income households in the amount not lower than P5,000 or higher than P8,000 a month for two months, computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates.
Cayetano pointed out that finding the money for this purpose is just half of the problem, with the greater challenge being the actual distribution of the aid and delivery of quick-response programs.
“The question now is how we can distribute the aid to those who need it most, at the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of waste,” he said.
In this regard, the Speaker proposed three key parameters that can be used in the distribution of cash or non-cash aid as provided under the newly passed law. These include house-to-house strategy, no-contact policy, and use of photo documentation.
“Let’s do it house-to-house to minimize the crowd. There should be little to no contact between the beneficiaries and relief workers. Maximize the use of technology for documentation and record-keeping,” Cayetano said. “We must strike a crucial balance between delivering much needed aid, while making sure that we keep contact and the risk of contamination as close to zero as we can.”
Under the traditional set up, the organizers distribute tickets to people prior to aid distribution. Then on the scheduled date of distribution, people gather in a single venue to claim the cash or goods assistance. For documentation, the beneficiaries are required to sign a proof of acceptance.
But Cayetano said the traditional way of relief distribution is not anymore feasible given the risks of the contagion.
“Our objective in Congress is to help in the building of a delivery system that is fast, effective, and complete with all the safeguards necessary for government to protect the people,” he noted.
Group of five
Through the use of an infographic that he posted on his Facebook page, the Speaker proposed to limit the number of distribution teams to five: a local government representative either from the Social Welfare Department, Barangay Affairs office or Urban Poor Affairs office; a barangay representative; a representative from the Office of the Congressman/woman; the Urban Poor Neighborhood Association/NGO/Home Owners Association leader; and a police or military personnel for security.
He said a well-represented group of five can address the issue of mistrust on the distribution of funds and can be an effective measure to promote transparency and accountability.
The Speaker clarified that taking photos for documentation should be done to avoid the use of pen and paper and lessen person-to-person contact.
Under the proposed set up, the distribution team should be equipped with protective gears such as goggles, protective gowns, gloves, alcohol, and access to smartphone cameras. They will also be provided with food and transportation to ensure fast and efficient process of delivery.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One law mandates the expansion and enhancement of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and is among the temporary emergency measures that shall be implemented to respond to the crisis.
To effectively respond to the needs of the affected sectors, the Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall transfer cash or goods, whichever is practicable, through the LGUs or directly to the households that have no income or savings to draw from. These includes households working in the informal economy and those who are not currently recipients of 4Ps during the quarantine period.
Cayetano also called on the government to work on a post-pandemic stimulus plan to get the country’s economy up and running at the soonest possible time.