By Ben Rosario
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) must use the deadline extension for the distribution of cash assistance to make sure that 25.7 million workers in the informal economy will benefit from the program.
Deputy Speaker and Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez aired this call as he chided the DSWD for implementing a process that made it difficult and nearly hopeless for the poorest in the labor sector to access government’s aid through the Social Amelioration Program.
Fernandez called on the DSWD to take advantage of the four-day extension for the cash distribution by lifting restrictions that may have denied millions of informal sector workers the said benefits.
He also vowed support for the conduct of a congressional inquiry into the DSWD’s “unsatisfactory handling” of the SAP program which was aimed at assisting poor and near poor Filipinos suffering from the effects of the enhanced community quarantine situation.
“This is a dangerous time and that is the reason why the power of oversight is being seen and being implemented right now,” Fernandez stated in a privilege speech honoring workers in the informal economy during the observance of Labor Day last week.
“During a crisis, we cannot be slow. Time is of the essence”, Fernandez said.
According to Fernandez, the process implemented by the DSWD required beneficiaries to undergo “identification, validation and revalidation”. He said this is counterproductive.
He lamented that DSWD officials ignored the recommended process made by the House of Representatives, thereby prolonging the distress of the country’s poor and near poor families that were made to wait longer for cash benefits urgently needed by them.
“I have to say that the House leadership’s specific recommendations to the DSWD for a more expeditious SAP process were sadly ignored,” the Laguna lawmaker said.
Workers in the informal sector were among the Filipinos under the enhanced community quarantine to have suffered most as a result of DSWD’s “questionable decision.”
He chided the DSWD’s tack in blaming the reported lack of personnel for the delayed SAP implementation, saying that the agency should have tapped workers in the informal sector for assistance.
Fernandez also called for the passage of the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Sector, saying that despite being included among the poorest of the poor workers in the country, this sector was able to contribute at last P5.7 trillion or 33 percent of the Philippine gross domestic product.