By Chito Chavez
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año on Tuesday, April 28, said that the beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) who opted to voluntarily waive and return their excess cash aid in favor of the most needy is worth emulating.
In hailing this commendable and selfless deed, Año thanked them for their honesty and compassion for their fellowmen in the middle of the health crisis. This act shows the inherent goodness of Filipinos that shines brighter in the darkest of circumstances like the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease-2019) pandemic.
“Kaya napakataas po ng respeto at paghanga ko sa kanila (That is why I hold them in high esteem),” Año said. Despite the delays in the distribution of the SAP, Año said reports of beneficiaries returning or waiving their emergency subsidy for reasons such as duplication, disqualification, or out of sheer kindness and generosity, continue to come in from various parts of the country.
He noted that it is encouraging to hear accounts of poor beneficiaries returning their SAP financial assistance amounting between P5,000 and P8,000 for the benefit of other families in need. “It is a selfless act in the middle of a public health emergency. Out of honesty and compassion for their fellow Filipinos, they opted to return the excess financial assistance for the benefit of others who need it more,” he added.
The DILG chief explained that these stories of honesty, sharing and compassion in the middle of the coronavirus crisis are made more meaningful because the act of generosity comes from the poor sector of the society. He said that these acts of kindness is a breath of fresh air amid reports of some beneficiaries using their SAP financial assistance in illegal activities such as gambling, alcoholism, and illegal drugs.
Acts of honesty amid the COVID-19 crisis
Año stressed “that stories of Filipinos waiving and returning their SAP financial aid continue to inspire many on various social media platforms, as millions of financial assistance are distributed to qualified low-income families nationwide.’’
Citing as examples, the DILG said that Cesar Ponciano Brillantes, a deaf-mute padyak (pedicab) driver from Tabaco City, Albay returned the P5,000 worth SAP assistance to the barangay. Radyo Veritas Legazpi’s official Facebook page posted that “Brillantes returned the financial aid he received from Barangay San Carlos, his permanent address, after receiving the same amount from Barangay Basud where he transferred, together with his wife and children prior to the lockdown.”
Jonathan Ballester of Tuburan, Ligao City in Albay, also returned his P5,000 SAP aid because according to him, his wife, who is a resident of another barangay, has already received the same assistance for their household. Meanwhile, six SAP beneficiaries from the Municipality of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato were recognized by Pigcawayan Mayor Jean Dino Roquero for their honesty.
“Despite the need to survive amid the health crisis, these six residents of Pigcawayan continued to live with an honest heart and decided to return the financial aid given to them,” says Roquero. Sheryl Flores Manzanades, resident of Poblacion 2, Pigcawayan and one of the six acknowledged by the LGU said “Ibalik ko ni kay nakakuha na gali akon bana sa New Panay, unta ihatag niyo sa iban pa nga pareho sa amon nga mga pobre. Bisan amo na lang mani nga pamaagi makabulig man kami sai nyo kag saila.” (“I gave it back because my husband received assistance from New Panay. Give it to others who are also poor like us. That is the only way I can help you and them.”)
The five other honest residents are John Kristopher Gonzaga; Johnie Nocillas; Elsie Guintaos; Gloria Maloto; and Paul John Servacio.