DSWD: Limiting SAP funds to beneficiaries in ECQ areas based on NEDA recommendation

Published April 26, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Limiting the government’s emergency subsidy program to beneficiaries in areas that remain under lockdown is based on the recommendation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista said on Sunday (April 26).

“The decision to provide the SAP (Social Amelioration Program) assistance to only ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) areas is a consensual effort of all the Cabinet secretaries as well as IATF (the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), based on the recommendation of NEDA,” Bautista said in a television interview.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday morning (April 24) announced that low-income households living in areas where the ECQ has been lifted will no longer receive the cash aid, while the areas under lockdown can expect continued distribution of the emergency subsidies.

Expected to receive the second wave of emergency subsidies are poor families in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and other areas which remain under lockdown.

President Duterte has decided to extend the ECQ for another two weeks or until May 15.

Bautista personally thinks that one of the reasons behind the non-implementation of the cash subsidy in areas which are under general community quarantine (GCQ) is the depleting SAP funds.

“The implementation of the SAP only on the beneficiaries in ECQ areas is in consideration with the budget availability. I’m sure you have heard the thoughts of [Finance] Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez and [Budget] Secretary Wendel Avisado. So, bottomline there is really the budget intended for the succeeding days for the ECQ, in short of saying, is running short,” he said.

Baustista said the local government units (LGUs) have submitted the list of eligible beneficiaries who were not included in the first wave of cash aid.

With the reprioritization of the SAP implementation in ECQ areas, those who did not receive the first tranche of cash aid this month will be given assistance, he said.

“The numbers will serve as data for our economic planners to source out additional budget intended for those who were not given the first month of social amelioration program.

“But with the new development now, in our assessment, those who were not given the first month nationwide will be provided. Of course, some of the amount will be given in priority in ECQ areas,” he said.

He said the inter-agency technical working group on the social amelioration program has convened and started “discussing the formulation of guidelines” relative to Roque’s pronouncement.

He added the guidelines will be presented to the IATF for its approval.

“We have to be careful that these guidelines should be aligned with the intent and purpose of RA (Republic Act No.) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, kaya kelangan talaga (that’s why it really needs to have) with imprimatur and approval of IATF,” he said.

Bautista said as the economic planners and concerned government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), ensure that economic activities or commerce will continue in areas under GCQ, workers in those areas who belong to low-income families “will be able to continue their work and earn an amount intended for their families.”

“Instead of giving [the subsidy to] those who have the ability to work and turn money, ay i-priority na lang or ibigay sa mga (priority should be given to the) poor target beneficiaries within the ECQ,” he said.

“Siguro ito yung ine-espouse natin na ‘bayanihan’ spirit (This is the bayanihan spirit we are espousing), some areas have to sacrifice so that others may get the benefits,” he added.