By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday ordered the local government units (LGUs) and the barangays to expedite the distribution of the Social Amelioration Card (SAC) and to produce an accurate master list of qualified beneficiaries.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año issued the call to ensure the timely and immediate release of assistance to those affected by the public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DILG Emergency Operations Center has been bombarded with complaints of barangay officials demanding voter’s identification cards (ID) before being given food packs given by the LGUs.
Año stressed that “time is of the essence in this coronavirus crisis and the poor people who were ordered to stay at home and refrain from moving are the priority.”
He added that government assistance should reach the beneficiaries as soon as possible with the economy on a standstill leaving millions of Filipinos with no source of employment or livelihood.
“We must act fast to help our poor countrymen. I am directing all LGUs to produce a master list of the social amelioration programs’ target beneficiaries at the earliest possible time for us be able to immediately address the needs of our countrymen,” Año said.
The DILG chief noted that 18 million low-income families all over the country shall receive a special subsidy amounting to a mixture of food items and cash amounting to P5,000 to a maximum of P8,000 a month depending on the minimum wage of the particular region to provide for the basic needs of poor families as provided by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Año explained that the fast distribution by the barangays of the SAC form to poor families will be key in preparing a master list of qualified beneficiaries who will fall under any of the amelioration packages to be implemented by the various national government agencies (NGAs) including the DILG.
He reiterated that no LGU or barangay can limit the beneficiaries to registered voters only; and that voter’s ID is not a requisite for inclusion in the list.
“Epal (attention seeker)” signages or appendages crediting any local government official or bearing his name or image are also banned.
“Huwag na po sana nating gamitin ang krisis na ito sa pulitika. Malayo pa po ang eleksyon (Let us not use this crisis for politics. The election is still far away). Let’s devote our time and efforts in helping the people,” he added.
SAC is a form distributed at the barangay level that captures the family profile which will be a mechanism for poor families and the vulnerable sectors of the society to access the social amelioration programs of the government.
“Help will come for our kababayans in these trying times in the form of these social amelioration packages and the urgent distribution of the SAC by the LGUs and barangays will play a key role to ensure the speedy delivery of assistance,” said Año.
The DILG, DSWD, DOLE, DTI, DA, DBM, and DOF recently signed Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2020 defining the special guidelines on the provision of social amelioration measures to the most affected residents of the areas in the country under enhanced community quarantine.
Under the JMC, the target beneficiaries of the special programs are senior citizens; persons with disability; pregnant and lactating women; solo parents; overseas Filipinos in distress; indigent Indigenous Peoples; underprivileged sector and homeless citizens; and informal economy workers who are set to receive assistance from the government’s social amelioration programs designed to assist them during the existing enhanced community quarantine.
Meanwhile, non-residents who were stranded can also be listed as beneficiaries.
DISTRIBUTION OF ASSISTANCE
Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-65, Año said that strict observance of the imposed home quarantine, physical distancing, and prohibition of mass gatherings must be exercised in distributing the SAC forms and in distributing the assistance to the beneficiaries.
“It will defeat the purpose of controlling the spread of the coronavirus if we will not practice proper ECQ protocols,’’ Año pointed out.
In the same memorandum, Año said “that the LGUs must lead the door-to-door distribution of the SAC and the subsidy to ensure that the aid reaches the target beneficiaries and that ECQ protocols on physical distancing is observed.”
He added that the LGUs must coordinate with concerned NGAs, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the distribution of the assistance “to avoid any untoward incidents and for law enforcement purposes.”
In the case of food and non-food Items, Año explained that the LGUs must identify suitable drop-off points to the DSWD prior to the distribution to the target beneficiaries.