By Ben Rosario
The Department of Social Welfare and Development and other government agencies tasked to implement the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for 18 million poor Filipino families lacks a sense of urgency in carrying out its tasks during the national health emergency.
The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives said the Duterte administration’s frontline agency for the SAP cash dole-outs also demonstrated a “slow rate of action” that is not acceptable during a major health crisis.
Composed of six congressmen representing progressive partylist organizations, the Makabayan bloc said the sixth report submitted to Congress by Malacanang indicated that 7.7 million out of the 18 million low income households still have to receive the financial assistance granted by government.
Around 11.4 million low-income households and 1M income-displaced individuals have received payouts but had to wait in vain for weeks and suffer long queues. The earliest beneficiaries to receive government aid had to wait for two to three weeks, and 4.5 million others waited for as long as six weeks– to receive a measly sum equivalent to just PhP80-119 per day.
The members of the bloc pointed out that the government should already be on its second tranche of assistance distribution, as it is already the second month of the lockdown. The deadline for the first batch of payment has already passed, yet the first wave is still far from completion: 43% of the target poor household beneficiaries and 633,000 informal and formal workers, farmers, OFWs, and PUV-TNVS drivers have not received what is due to them as of the government’s self-imposed deadline on April 30, 2020.
“The government’s social amelioration program has failed to provide urgent and timely economic relief to Filipino families amid the pandemic, with an alarming backlog of 8.3M households and individuals–7.1m of whom are low-income non-4Ps households,” the Makabayan bloc stressed in a statement.
According to the summary report of payouts to non-4Ps beneficiaries per region as of the end of April 2020, an average of 49 per cent nationwide are unserved, with BARMM and NCR having 93.59% (169,000 of 180,000 families) and 80.10%, respectively, as the highest backlog percentage.
In Metro Manila, it is bothersome that up to now only 310,000 of its 1.5M household beneficiaries (leaving a 1.2M backlog) have received the meager aid despite being the region under lockdown for the longest duration, thus requiring urgent assistance.
Other regions with the lowest rate of distribution are as follows: Region XI (34%, 240,000 of 690,000 households), Region VII (38%, 405,000 of 1.05 million), Region X (41%, 168,000 of 403,000), and Region IV-A Calabarzon (42%, 815,000 of 1.9 million).
Of the 1,634 LGUs across the country, 218 LGUs remain to be below 10% in terms of SAP implementation (by the percentage of clients served) while 404 LGUs are between 11-50% accomplishment rate.
With these huge backlogs and snail-paced progress, LGUs were given an extension of only seven days for high population areas and four days in other LGUs within which to make up for their deficiency in distribution.
The Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives consists of Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia “Ka Femia” Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT-Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago.