By Charissa Luci-Atienza
One personnel of the Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while 253 other personnel from its Field Offices underwent self-quarantine, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista announced on Tuesday, May 5.
He said the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) subsidies in COVID-affected areas, and those areas with security concerns remains a challenge. “Mula nung March 10, isa na po ang positive COVID-19 natin na personnel at 253 na rin ang personnel ng Departmento nationwide na nag-undergo na ng self-quarantine,” he said in a virtual presss briefing.
(Since March 10, one of our personnel tested positive for COVID-19, and 253 personnel of the Department nationwide underwent self-quarantine.)
He said some local government units (LGUs) decided to delay the distribution because of their depleting workforce on the ground because their SAP frontliners got infected. “Malaking bawas po kasi sa workforce ng local na pamahalan kapag may nainfect na personnel nila dahil ang mga nakasama na COVID-19 positive ay kailangnan magself-quarantine. Ganun din po sa mga DSWD personnel ng mga Field Offices na marami na rin nagquarantine dahil sa pakikihalubilo sa mga positive COVID-19 cases,” Bautista said.
(It is a big reduction in the workforce of the local government when one of their personnel got infected. Those people who have close contact with COVID-19 positive have to undergo self-quarantine. Many of the DSWD personnel in the Field Offices also submitted themselves to self-quarantine for having close contact with positive COVID-19 cases.)
He said the LGUs themselves requested the DSWD that the SAP payouts be stalled, since their areas were COVID-infected, which made it impossible for them to conduct the house-to-house distribution. On areas with security concerns, Bautista said the concerned LGUs, the DSWD, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are tacklings ways on how to address the situation.
He noted that only 459 out of 1,589 LGUs have recorded 100-percent SAP payout completion, while 38 LGUs already submitted their liquidation reports. Based on the DSWD guidelines, within 24 hrs upon receipt of funds, the LGUs are expected to conduct payout within five to seven days.
There are 1,634 LGUs in the country, according to the DSWD.
The “peculiarities” in some areas, particularly those with increasing number of COVID-19 infections and infested with insurgency, prodded the government to extend the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies.
The DSWD said the LGUs in the National Capital Region (NCR), Cavite, Bulacan, Davao, and Cebu have been given a seven-day extension to distribute the cash aid, while the rest of the LGUs have been given four days.
Based on the DSWD guidelines, within 24 hrs upon receipt of fund, the LGUs are expected to conduct payout within five to seven days.
Under Republic Act No. 11469 or 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 a region for two months from April to March.