By Ben R. Rosario
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano lamented Friday the failure of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to fully distribute the P196-billion cash assistance to the poor and families who have joined the needy as a result of the measures adopted by government to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In opening the virtual meeting of the sub-committee on social amelioration of the Defeat COVID-19 Technical Working Group, Cayetano aired the belief that the Lower House had the formula that could have assured all 18 million families their share of the cash doleout under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) by the end of April.
The Lower House proposal was ignored by the DSWD that admitted that only 10,135,634 families received the P5,000 or P8,000 assistance at the end of April.
Thus, out of the P196 billion turned over by the Department of Budget and Management, the DSWD was only able to give away P53,834,283.
“It is true that there has been disagreements between the congressional team and the DWSD in particular. I still believe na kung nasunod yung iba nating recommendations, dapat weeks ago tapos na ‘yung distribution, (I still believe that had they followed our recommendations, the distribution has been compelted weeks ago)” Cayetano stated.
The DSWD reported that out of the 18 million target beneficiaries, only 10,135,634 families received their cash assistance by the end of April.
The agency presented the report as hundreds of complaints started to pour in from families and individuals left out in the distribution.
Among them are the so-called “new poor” who lost their jobs or are no longer getting salaries as a result of the over a month implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Let’s only focus on bakit may mali sa guidelines o sa implementation in order not to pin down someone or say ‘kayo mali’ but to have better systems (Let’s only focus on why there was something wrong in the guildeines or the implementation in order not to pin down someone or say ‘you made the mistake’ but to have better systems),” said the Speaker..
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez reminded government agencies tasked to implement the SAP that this program is the “heart and soul of the” Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
He stressed that Congress had done its part at addressing the economic difficulties faced by millions of Filipinos when lawmakers “acted with dispatch in enacting” RA 1146, “knowing that any minute of delay can cause starvation of our people.”
“We aimed to deliver immediate aid not only to workers who temporarily lost their jobs due to COVID-19 pandemic. We also wished to provide relief to those who have no means to feed their families in these trying times,” said Romualdez.
The Leyte solon said the Lower House initiated the meeting in the hope that government will “finally set in place all the systems and mechanisms to address the lingering problems that our marginalized sectors face day to day in the times of COVID-19.”