By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The local government units (LGUs) that are unable to complete the distribution of the first tranche of the emergency subsidy for 18 million low-income families by April 30 may ask for an extension, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Wednesday.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said given the “peculiarities” in some areas, particularly those with increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and infested with insurgency, the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies may be extended.
“Sinabi po namin sa mga LGUs kung talagang hindi makaya, puwede sila magrequest ng extension (We told the LGUs that if they can’t complete the distribution, they can request for an extension,” he said in a radio interview, a day after Malacañang announced that LGUs may be charged with dereliction of duty if they fail to complete the subsidy distribution by April 30.
“Maguusap kami ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) kasi narinig naman po namin ang kanilang sinasabing mga hadlang, lalo na sa Metro Manila, talagang may areas dyan na COVID-19 infected kaya hindi basta basta pasukin o i-house to house so gumagawa sila ng ibang pamamaraan para masigurado na compliant yung proseso ng payout ayon na rin sa social distancing and prohibition on mass gathering,” Bautista said. (We will talk to DILG about this because we heard their concerns, especially in Metro Manila where there are areas which are COVID-19 infected, that is why it is difficult to enter or conduct house-to house distribution and they are doing ways to ensure that the payout process is compliant with social distancing and prohibition on mass gathering.)
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday said the DILG will issue a show-cause order against local government officials who fail to comply with the aid distribution by April 30.
Bautista explained that among the “challenges” in the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) cited by LGUs were cases of COVID-19, which made it impossible for them to conduct the house-to-house distribution; the depleting number of workforce on the ground since SAP frontliners were also infected; and security concerns in some areas.
“Mayroon kasing peculiarities sa areas ng ating nga lokal pamahalaan kaya nais man nilang pabilisin ang pagbibigay ng ayuda, yun ang nagiging challenges sa kanila,” Bautista said. (There are peculiarities in the areas of our local government. Even though they want to expedite the distribution of the aid, these challenges disrupted their distribution.)
He said in some cases, local social and welfare development officers, who are the LGUs’ frontliners in the distribution of SAP subsidy, and the DSWD frontliners, got infected with the coronavirus disease.
“Ito ay domino effect, pag-isang frontliner ay na-infect, yung kasamahan nya ay kailangan mag quarantine. Hindi rin sila makahingi ng reinforcement kasi sa ibang areas ay apektado rin,” Bautista said. (This has a domino effect, if one frontliner gets infected, those who have close contact with him or her need to undergo quarantine. They can’t ask for reinforcement because other areas are also affected.)
“Maraming insidente na ang convoy ng sundalo, PNP (Philippine National Police) at kasama dun ang convoy ng ating local social welfare and development officers at saka ng DSWD na kasama sa convoy ay ina-ambush eh,” he added. (There are many incidents that the convoy of the military, PNP, including the convoy of our local social welfare and development officers and the DSWD was ambushed.)
Bautista said more than P45.6 billion worth of emergency subsidies have been distributed to 8.7 million beneficiaries.
He noted that the total amount of disbursed SAP funds is 45.61 percent of the P100 billion allocated for the first wave of cash aid for the month of May.
The total number of beneficiaries is 48.5 percent of the target 18 million beneficiaries.
SAP beneficiaries also include 3, 729,757 4Ps families which received P16.4 billion worth of emergency subsidies; and 40,418 families of Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) and Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers who got P323 million subsidy allocation.
He said that as of April 28, more than P80.7 billion SAP funds have been downloaded to 1,515 LGUs. The amount is 98.7 percent of the P80.3 billion downloaded to LGUs for non-Pantawid Pamilya families.
There are 1,632 LGUs in the country.
Under Republic Act No. 11469, the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” 18-million low-income households are entitled to receive emergency subsidy ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 depending on the minimum wage level in the region for two months starting April.