By Genalyn Kabiling
Low-income families should learn to budget the emergency subsidy given by the government during the COVID-19 lockdown, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Friday.
According to Andanar, the target beneficiaries of the financial aid should budget or manage their expenses to effectively cope with the national health emergency.
Andanar made the statement after some groups reportedly complained that the cash subsidy for the poor households will be insufficient to meet their needs for the months of April and May.
What was initially announced as a month-long Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine has since been extended by President Duterte for two more weeks or until 30 April.
“Doon sa mga nagpo-post na kulang ‘yung P8,000 sa isang buwan, panahon ngayon ng krisis, lahat tayo naghihirap siguro naman kung nabigyan tayo ng ayuda ng P8,000 we really need to budget properly kaya nga pantawid lang ang ito na tulong (To those who posted P8,000 wont be enough for a month, these are times of crisis, we are all suffering and maybe if we are given P8,000 aid, we really need to budget properly. This is a stop-gap measure to help the people),” he said during the “Laging Handa” (Always Ready) media briefing on Friday.
“Hopefully, by April 30 ma-lift na itong ating enhanced community quarantine at puwede nang mag-negosyo na uli ang mga negosyante at puwede nang pumasok ang ating mga workers (Hopefully by April 30, the enhanced community quarantine will be lifted so our businesses can resume operations and our workers can return to work),” he added.
The government recently launched the P200-billion emergency subsidy program that will benefit 18 million low income households for the months of April and May. The subsidy ranges between P5,000 and P8,000 and is given to beneficiaries depending on the minimum wage level in a region.
The social protection program is authorized under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to cushion the blow of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which has given an initial P100 billion for the cash amelioration program, has started distributing the financial aid in Metro Manila and five other regions.
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista recently announced they are working with the local government units to iron out the problems concerning the list of target beneficiaries.
He said that while the DSWD has given aid to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and families of public utility drivers, problems arose when some local government units were unable to provide a complete list of families qualified to receive the assistance.
“Dito po naranasan natin na mayroong sabihin na natin naging problema kasi po ang listahan ng mga taong babayaran ay hindi po available. Siguro ang ine-expect po namin noon na ang LGU dahil alam nila ang kanilang constituents ay they have the profile: the names, the work and other livelihood activities ng kanilang mga nasasakupan (We encountered the problems because the list of beneficiaries is unavailable. We expected the LGUs to know their constituents as they have the profile: the names, the work and other livelihood activities of their constituents),” he said during the televised public briefing with President Duterte early Thursday.
“But as we continue to engage the LGUs, municipal and city social welfare development offices, we are able to identify and determine what are the gaps and the shortcomings. And hopefully in due time, we will be able distribute the cash amelioration (assistance) systematically and orderly,” he said.
Despite the challenges confronted by the DSWD and LGUs in the cash distribution system, Bautista has appealed for an end to the “blame game,” saying it was best for all concerned to simply help each other get the job done.
“Ang akin lang pong advice sa ating lahat na (My advice to everyone is_ this is not the time for blame game. Dapat the more that we should help one another in any form we can,” he said.
“Katulad ng sinasabi ng ating Presidente na (Like the President said), this is an opportunity for us to show to our people that we are worthy public servants looking after the welfare of our brothers and sisters,” he said.