By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte assured those not in the list of recipients of the social amelioration program that the ones in charge of the program will find ways to help them.
Duterte made the statement following complaints that some citizens were not included in the list of people who would benefit from the emergency subsidy for the families affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
In a meeting with members of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases aired Thursday past midnight, the President said those not in the list will not be neglected even though the budget is really for the names on the list.
“Ngayon sabihin mo (Now you may ask me), ‘Paano kami, Mayor? Patayin mo kami sa gutom (What about us, Mayor? You’ll starve us to death).’ Well, the men on the ground will know. They are human beings,” Duterte said.
“General Bautista (Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista) and General Galvez (Peace Adviser and National Action Plan on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr.). They will look for a way to — to help you. Hindi ka nila pababayaan (They will not forsake you),” he added.
He, however, asked those not in the list to also try to take it up with their mayors or barangay captains.
The Social Amelioration Program is a major component of the government’s efforts to help underprivileged families. The program aims to assist 18 million families by giving them financial assistance ranging from P5,000 to P8,000.
In the same IATF meeting, Bautista reported that the initial tranche of the program worth P100 billion was already distributed to members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and transport group beneficiaries.
Bautista said they did not have any problem distributing the subsidy to 4Ps members because they already have a credible list of recipients. However, he said the DSWD encountered a problem for the other beneficiaries.
“Dito po naranasan natin na mayroong sabihin na natin naging problema kasi po ang listahan ng mga taong babayaran ay hindi po available (We encountered a bit of a problem because the list of beneficiaries was not available),” he said.
“Siguro ang ine-expect po namin noon na ang LGU dahil alam nila ang kanilang constituents ay (Perhaps we were expecting that the local government units already know the beneficiaries because these are their constituents and) they have the profile: the names, the work, and other livelihood activities,” he added.
Bautista said the problem is slowly getting fixed as the DSWD continued to engage with the LGUs.
“As we continue to engage the LGU, municipal, city social welfare development offices we were able to identify and determine what are the gaps and the shortcomings. Hopefully, in due time, we will be able to have it — distribute the cash amelioration systematically and orderly,” he said.
The DSWD earlier reported that its Metro Manila office finished facilitating the issuance of checks for the month of April to Metro Manila LGUs that have already completed their requirements.
Social amelioration card
Bautista likewise explained why it was important that people fill out the social amelioration card so the DSWD will know what kind of assistance to give the recipient and to avoid duplication of assistance.
“Mababawasan po ang mga benepisyaryo dahil ang isang pamilya na makakatanggap ng isa, dalawa o tatlong ayuda sa mga iba’t ibang ahensiya (Fewer will benefit because there would be families who will receive one or two or three assistance from different government agencies),” he said.
“Pero kung susundan lang ‘yung sinasabi nating isang ayuda lamang, ‘yung mga sobra doon ay maaaring ibigay sa mga nakakarami (But if we strictly implement giving only one assistance per family, we can help others as well),” he added.
Bautista said they were requiring LGUs to submit documents to promote transparency and accountability.
“Alam naman po natin na may mga pagkakataon na may mawawalang pera o hindi mabibilang ang pera kaya kailangan po na mayroong taong mananagot, taong sasagot kung sakaling hanapin ang mga pagkukulang na pera (We are aware that there are time that a portion of the fund will go missing or unaccounted for that’s why there has to be someone to answer for it in case these things happen),” he said.
“We should be a vanguard in the distribution of the social amelioration program. [This is the] people’s money, coming from the people’s tax at hindi dapat po ito masayang o magamit lamang ng mga taong iniisip ang kanilang sariling interes (and should not be wasted or used by people for their own interests),” he added.