The first tranche of emergency subsidies under the national government’s social amelioration program (SAP) will be granted to an additional five million poor families, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on May 12, 2020.
Sec. Roque said the proposal of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to provide cash aid to five million more low-income households has been approved.
With this, the total number of beneficiaries of the first tranche of the financial assistance is now 23 million, Roque said.
“Naaprubahan na po. Hindi lang 18 million ang mabibigyan po ng SAP sa first tranche. Nadagdagan na po ng limang milyon (It has already been approved. The number of [poor families] who will receive the first tranche of SAP is not only 18 million. There is an additional five million),” he said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
Originally, some 18 million low-income households were the target SAP beneficiaries expected to receive monthly emergency subsidies from the national government.
Under the SAP, each recipient would receive cash aid ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 per month for April and May.
The IATF-EID, however, agreed on May 1 to fulfill President Rodrigo Duterte’s intent to extend the cash aid to an additional five million poor families to help them sustain their needs amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Roque further explained that SAP beneficiaries who are residing in areas placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) would no longer get the second tranche of emergency subsidies.
He said only poor families living in places under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which is more stringent than GCQ, would receive the second tranche of cash relief.
“Dahil limitado ang pondong binigay ng Kongreso, ‘yung mabibigyan sa second tranche ay ‘yun lamang nananatili sa ECQ na dineklara ng pangalawang buwan ng ating Pangulo (Because of the limited funds given to the government by Congress, those who would be provided the second tranche are those in areas where an ECQ is implemented by the President for the second month),” Roque said.
SAP distribution 92.3% complete
Local government units (LGUs) have been tasked to release the funds downloaded to them by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the implementation of SAP.
Citing data from DSWD, Roque said about 92.3 percent of SAP beneficiaries have already received the first tranche of emergency subsidies.
“Sang-ayon po sa DSWD, 92.3 (percent) na po nung first tranche ang nailabas natin at nakarating na sa ating mga kababayan (According to the statement from DSWD, about 92.3 percent of the first tranche [of emergency subsidies] have already been released and given to our fellow countrymen),” he said.
The LGUs have so far disbursed PHP74.40 billion out of the PHP81.16 billion budget earmarked for the distribution of cash aid to poor families who are not part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), data uploaded on the DSWD’s official website showed.
Some 12.28 million low-income households who are not 4Ps beneficiaries have already received the emergency subsidies.
183 cases lodged vs. LGUs
Those LGUs who have failed to distribute the financial aid to poor families were given until May 13 to finish the release of the payout.
Roque noted that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which supervises LGUs, is looking into the 183 complaints lodged against local officials who were unable to distribute the emergency subsidies to SAP recipients.
He said Duterte wants erring LGUs to face appropriate sanctions.
“Sa mula’t mula pa, inaasahan niya (Duterte) na merong magkakana nitong ayuda na para sa mga pinakamahihirap sa atin (From the very beginning, he already expected that some [local officials] would pocket the money that should have been distributed to poor families),” Roque said. “Kinakailangang sampulan iyang mga gumagawa ng kababalaghan (We have to teach them a lesson).”
Malacañang earlier warned that administrative and criminal cases would be slapped against local officials who fail to distribute all the emergency subsidies.
Enough funds to implement SAP
Roque assured that the government still has available funds for the full implementation of the SAP.
“Sapat naman ang ating pamigay sa ayuda (We have enough funds to grant assistance to poor families). Sa ngayon (For now), we’re doing fine,” he said.
During his meeting with Cabinet officials at Malacañan Palace on Monday night, the President once again directed DSWD to “solely” take charge of the implementation of the SAP due to the persistent complaints against LGUs’ failure to distribute the cash aid to poor families.
Roque reminded LGUs to hasten the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies.
“Ang gagawin po ng DSWD, unang-una, ‘yung mga LGU na hindi pa nakakabigay ng ayuda, ipagpatuloy hanggang hindi pa binabawi ang pondo, ibigay po iyan (DSWD will let the LGUs proceed with the distribution of the cash assistance while they still have the funds),” he said.
The second tranche of emergency subsidies will only be released once the LGUs complete their liquidation reports. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)