The government has decided to harmonize and hasten its aid and humanitarian assistance in times of disasters and other emergencies.
In Executive Order No. 137, President Duterte has institutionalized the Aid and Humanitarian Operations Nationwide (AHON) Convergence Program "as a platform for an enhanced and unified delivery of social amelioration services." The same order created an inter-agency committee to coordinate the aid operations as well as establish a database of beneficiaries.
The President's order noted that the country remained vulnerable to the impact of climate change such as extreme weather events. The country is also currently placed under a state of public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is a need to accelerate and harmonize aid and humanitarian assistance provided by the National Government to the most affected and vulnerable sectors and communities, enhanced agency coordination in the distribution thereof," the order read.
It also recognized the need "to establish a unified beneficiary database using digital platforms and technologies for a faster and more reliable delivery of social protection programs and services of the Government."
Under EO 137, the AHON program will include food and non-food relief items, livelihood assistance, educational support in the form of cash allowance to qualified students, burial aid, transport assistance, employment assistance, medical and health support, direct financial aid, and infrastructure for preparedness and rehabilitation phase. Concerned government agencies have been tasked to implement the related programs.
The President's latest EO also created the AHON Committee to ensure the efficient and coordinated aid and humanitarian support to the people affected by disasters or emergencies as well as harmonize the type of suitable aid to ensure efficient use of resources.
The Office of the Special Assistant to the President will serve as chair of the committee with the Department of Social Welfare and Development as vice chair. Members of the committee include the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Labor and Employment, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
A unified "Convergence Information System" will also be established by the committee. The system will contain the database of people and places benefiting from the government aid.
The funds for the latest program will be sourced from the testing budget of the implementing agencies. An annual report must be submitted by the committee to the President.
The order took effect immediately after it was signed by the President on May 24.