PHOTO: In Caloocan City, residents line up (with some physical distancing) to withdraw cash from the ATM courtesy of the DSWD
Cash aid distribution starts in NCR, 6 regions
MANILA, Philippines — The distribution of the P200-billion cash assistance to those hardest hit by measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic began yesterday, with poor families in seven regions – including Metro Manila – as initial beneficiaries.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it began the distribution of the fund in Regions 1, 2, 3, Calabarzon (Region 4-A), National Capital Region (NCR), Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The remaining regions will receive their subsidies today and tomorrow.
In the NCR or Metro Manila, the first to receive up to P8,000 as monthly aid were poor households in Manila and Parañaque.
Nograles, spokesman for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the DSWD informed him of the start of the distribution. “And we expect other jurisdictions to be distributing these to their residents in the next few days,” he said.
Cash released to 4Ps household-beneficiaries range from P3,650 to P6,650 per month for two months, depending on the prescribed emergency subsidy per region determined from a particular region’s minimum wage levels.
The emergency cash subsidy will serve as a top-up amount to regular cash grants and rice allowance.
Beneficiaries with Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) cash cards may withdraw from any Land Bank of the Philippines automated teller machines or any ATM subject to minimal charges.
Nograles said the government’s move was in accordance with the call from World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on governments to address the needs of the most vulnerable sector of society affected by the COVID-19 scourge.
“(Tedros) said that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement which can help limit transmission of the virus, but can have unintended consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people,” Nograles said.
“He then called on governments around the world to put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials during this crisis,” he added.
At the same time, Nograles appealed to other families to be more understanding and cooperative as the DSWD takes the lead in distributing the P200-billion Emergency Subsidy Program under Republic Act 11469.
“Just wait for the announcement of the assigned government personnel regarding the system to ensure an orderly distribution of assistance,” he said.
Help is near
News of the coming financial aid has elated 73-year-old Adelina Apinado, who waited for it patiently inside her house.
Apinado’s house in Vitalez in Parañaque is merely 50 meters away from the first house that received the social amelioration program of the national government.
In an interview yesterday, Apinado said she merely relied on what the local government of Parañaque and what her neighbors gave for her and her family to survive.
“It is a big thing for my family, especially since we are in need,” Apinado told The STAR in Filipino.
Another citizen, Cypril Generalao, lauded the government for the monetary aid.
Generalao is a single mother taking care of a four-year-old child.
She was working for a Chinese office, which has closed since the outbreak of COVID-19 weeks ago. Generalao said she used her savings to provide for her family and child.
“The aid is a big help because as a single mom with no work, what would I use to provide for my child?” she told reporters.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which mandates the distribution of cash assistance, poor families from Metro Manila will receive a monthly subsidy of P8,000 for two months. In other regions, the amount is P5,000 for each household, based on the region’s minimum daily wage rate.
President Duterte signed the law on March 24.
“All these are being done so everyone can focus on keeping each other safe from the virus; so we can focus on the health and welfare of our family,” Nograles said, referring to easing of terms in the payment of loans and rents.
Nograles also revealed that 34,253 workers have availed themselves of the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program or CAMP, a one-time P5,000 subsidy for workers whose incomes have been affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
“We urge employers to work with DOLE so their employees can get this benefit,” the IATF spokesman said.
Quoting Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Nograles said employees can file their requests themselves if their employers fail to submit their payrolls to the DOLE.
Apart from the P5,000 CAMP subsidy, Nograles said DOLE had distributed 165,929 family food packs to workers.
“Aside from financial assistance to those who need it, both government and private sector have also suspended payments and waived fees for payment that fall within the quarantine period,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bong Go appealed to the executive department to grant a one-time ‘Bayanihan’ financial assistance to cities and municipalities to help them respond to the needs of their constituents while the country is under a national health emergency.
“We should help LGUs (local government units) care for their communities. It will be very helpful if we give them additional funds so they can address the growing needs of the people,” he said.
While the national government is dealing with the health crisis, LGUs should continue addressing the needs of their constituents.
He commended LGUs for their efforts in maintaining order in their areas and in responding to the immediate needs of the people.
“We thank LGUs, governors, vice governors, mayors, vice mayors, barangay officials working hard to help their respective constituents. Now, more than ever, we as elected officials must do everything we can to be of service to the people,” he said.
Go recommended that a one-time grant from the national government be equivalent to one month of the LGUs’ respective internal revenue allotments (IRA).
“With the huge problem we are facing with this COVID-19 crisis, LGUs might run out of funds. Not all LGUs have equal funds and they need assistance from the national government,” he said.
Go cited salient provisions of Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act as bases for his proposal.
“Let us push for the implementation of this law to make it easy for the government to reprogram, reallocate and realign funds to protect Filipinos from COVID 19,” Go added.
As member of the Joint Oversight Committee of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go vowed to make sure that available funds are used properly to provide immediate help to Filipinos who need government attention the most.
“We will definitely ensure that the use of funds will be free from corruption. The funds will not be used for salary of personnel or any administrative and traveling expenses not related to COVID-19,” he pointed out. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Cecille Suerte Felipe