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Gov’t issues guidelines on NCR+ ‘ayuda’ distribution

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The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) issued on April 1, 2021, the guidelines for the distribution of financial assistance to residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal (NCR Plus).

The ayuda (assistance) is PHP1,000 per individual, with a maximum of PHP4,000 per family.

DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said DILG Officer in Charge Bernardo Florece Jr., DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, and Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 1, dated March 31, 2021, to serve as guidelines in the distribution of financial assistance after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of PHP22.9 billion to affected individuals.

“As we pray this Holy Week that this Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic will finally end, we also take care of providing for the basic needs of affected low-income families during this ECQ,” Malaya said in a news release.

Under the JMC, all local government units (LGUs) are directed to determine through an executive order (EO) the most effective and efficient way of releasing the assistance to their constituents in 15 calendars days upon receipt of the funds if the assistance is in cash or within 30 calendar days if assistance is in kind.

“The LGUs have the discretion to determine if the assistance will be given in cash or in kind provided that the assistance gets to their constituents soonest,” he said.

“As soon as the Special Allotment Release Order and Notice of Cash Allocation are received by the LGUs, the mayors will need to issue an Executive Order detailing therein the type, manner, and process of distribution. After the issuance of the EO, they can start the distribution.”

Under the JMC, priority target beneficiaries of the financial assistance are low-income individuals and those working in informal economies who were beneficiaries of the first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP); additional beneficiaries in SAP 2; SAP wait-listed beneficiaries; and those belonging to vulnerable groups, such as low-income individuals living alone, persons with disabilities, solo parents, and the like.

The LGUs can also assist other individuals affected by the ECQ provided that funds are still available.

Malaya said the DSWD would provide the LGUs with the complete list of previous SAP beneficiaries, which will serve as their reference in determining the individuals who will be granted financial aid in their respective localities.

Unlike the previous practices wherein the list of SAP beneficiaries was posted afterward, the concerned city/municipal mayors, and punong barangays (village captains) should first post the approved names and village/district of the target beneficiaries before the actual distribution, he said.

The list shall be posted on the LGUs’ official website, social media accounts, and at conspicuous places in the community to foster greater transparency and accountability.

Grievance process

Malaya assured the public that safeguards are in place to ensure that the funds would get to the intended beneficiaries and that there is an appeals process in the LGU where people could submit their complaints.

“We will make sure that the funds downloaded to the LGUs are used for purposes they were intended for. Before distribution, the mayor should issue an executive order detailing therein the type, manner, or process of distribution so that the public is properly guided. They are also required to create a Grievance and Appeals Committee per LGU where people can submit complaints,” he said.

Malaya said they would also create a Joint Monitoring and Inspection Team (JMIT) in each LGU headed by the DILG city/municipal local government operations officer and representatives of the DSWD, Philippine National Police, City or Provincial Prosecutors Office, and civil society organizations.

The JMIT, he said, would address complaints or grievances from their constituents concerning the financial aid, monitor LGU compliance with applicable guidelines, seek the assistance of higher authorities in case of undue delay or systemic anomalies in the distribution, and cause the filing of administrative or criminal cases against public officials or individuals involved in irregular or unlawful practices relative to the financial aid.

Malaya said as part of the JMIT, the police would immediately investigate and do case build-up on reported cases of anomalies, irregularities, or graft and corruption concerning the aid distribution.

He added that the police would be mobilized to provide security to LGUs in the distribution and may request for the assistance of the military to augment security arrangements in conflict-affected areas or geographically isolated areas.

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