MANILA – The Philippine government has distributed financial assistance to 4 million out of 18 million poor families affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Wednesday, nearly a month into the lockdown imposed in Luzon and several areas in the country to halt the contagion.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Social Welfare Undersecretary Milo Gudmalin also said the agency had downloaded some P65 billion worth of funds to 1,228 local government units (LGUs) for the government's Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
"Hindi pa (nangangalahati). Malayo pa pero na-distribute na natin ito… Inaasahan natin sa linggong ito, dadami, dodoble ang mabibigyan ng subsidy ng ating LGUs," he said.
The Philippine government has allotted a P200-billion emergency package for low-income households to help them weather the crisis.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, each beneficiary will receive cash aid ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 in April and May based on minimum wage in the region.
Among those entitled to the cash aid are the elderly, homeless Filipinos, pregnant women, indigents, “no work, no pay” workers, and families that belong to the marginalized sectors.
One of the reasons for the slow distribution of cash subsidy, Gudmalin said, was that LGUs have to reconcile the list of beneficiaries.
"May proseso kasi na ginagawa. Nililista ng barangay kung sino ang dapat makakatanggap, gagawa ng payroll, i-encash ang pera at doon mag-uumpisa ang pamimigay," he added.
The aid was released on April 2 and DSWD immediately coordinated with LGUs on creating a memorandum of agreement for the release of fund on April 3, Gudmalin said. Distribution of fund to different localities started on April 7.
To remedy the government's rollout of the program, DSWD released guidelines, saying the agency would audit the list of beneficiaries later.
"Hindi na muna gagawa ng validation ang DSWD. Kailangan masigurado ng LGUs na qualified at entitled beneficiaries ang makakasama sa listahan," Gudmalin said.
For families who were not able to receive cash subsidy, they can appeal to DSWD and will be included in the second wave of distribution, he said.
If DSWD will discover that LGUs have given cash aid to unqualified beneficiaries, they would have to reimburse, Gudmalin added.
Those who do not follow the guidelines set by the national government may face administrative, civil and criminal charges.
The DSWD can be reached through its hotline 8951-2803.
As of Wednesday, the Philippine has recorded 5,453 coronavirus cases, with 349 deaths and 353 recoveries.