Quezon City Assistant Administrator for Operations Alberto Kimpo told CNN Philippines that city officials experienced ‘time pressure’ in distributing cash aid to the 377,000 beneficiaries under the government’s social amelioration program.
“Ang binigay sa atin na panahon upang maka-distribute ay maiksing maiksi lamang at yung bilang na dapat mapagbigyan ng ayuda galing sa DSWD ay napakalaki,” Kimpo said.
[Translation: The time given to us to distribute (cash aid) is very short and the number of beneficiaries that must be given aid from the DSWD is huge.]
“At yung deadline yan ay kahapon kaya pinilit talaga natin na ma-meet yung deadline na ito, isa na rito sa Barangay Bagong Pag-asa,” he added.
[Translation: And the deadline was yesterday so we really forced ourselves to meet this deadline, and this includes Barangay Bagong Pag-asa.]
On Sunday, photos circulated online showing beneficiaries lining up at the gate of Barangay Pag-asa Elementary School to receive cash aid under the social amelioration program. While physical distancing protocols were observed inside the school, they were not implemented in the queue.
Kimpo said the local government has been implementing strict physical distancing protocols when distributing cash assistance.
“Kung mayroong mga sandali na hindi nasusunod yung ating social distancing na minimum requirements agad din namang pinaalalahanan lahat na sumunod dito at ginagawa natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya,” Kimpo said.
[Translation: If there are times when social distancing minimum requirements are not observed, we remind them right away to follow and we are doing everything we can.]
As of Monday, Quezon City reported 89.3 percent distribution rate for cash aid beneficiaries, citing challenges on the ground.
Kimpo said barangays have been instructed to strictly follow the list validated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). However, he said some beneficiaries on the list fail to appear, while those not on the list show up trying to collect.
“Kaya meron pong ilang percentage ng bawat payout target rate sa mga barangay na hindi nare-release ang mga amounts na ito at ito yung pinipilit natin mahabol ngayon na binabalikan natin ang mga barangay kung saan hindi 100 percent yung rate,” Kimpo said.
[Translation: So there are a few barangays that have not reached the target payout rate because these amounts are not being released, and these are the barangays we come back to where the distribution rate is not 100 percent.]
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya earlier said local government units who were not able to beat the deadline can continue to distribute, unless the DSWD demands for the return of the funds.
Quezon City has the biggest population among cities in Metro Manila, and currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region at 1,578.
But Kimpo disclosed that not all of the COVID-19 patients there are residents of Quezon City. He said some are patients who have been admitted to the city’s hospitals but actually reside elsewhere.
“As of May 9, nasa 1,168 yung na-validate talaga ng ating city epidemiology and surveillance unit,” Kimpo clarified.