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IATF sorry cash aid has not reached everyone, assures public help is coming

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
IATF sorry cash aid has not reached everyone, assures public help is coming
Families that belong to either the poor or informal sector who are at risk of not earning a living during the enhanced community quarantine are among the target beneficiaries of the program.
Boy Santos / File

MANILA, Philippines — The task force on COVID-19 on Monday apologized to low-income households and workers who have yet to receive cash aid and assured them that something is being done to ensure the prompt distribution of assistance to intended beneficiaries.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesman, said the government is addressing issues related to the implementation of the social amelioration program, which seeks to provide emergency subsidies to sectors affected by the Luzon quarantine.

He said these issues include reconciling the list of beneficiaries as well as logistical challenges especially in remote communities.

"The government recognizes that there have been concerns regarding the prompt distribution of these subsidies. According to DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) they are working on resolving the issues concerning the timely distribution of the subsidies," Nograles said at a press briefing.

"To our countrymen who are waiting for the subsidies, we would like to apologize and appeal for your patience but you can be sure that we are doing all we can to extend the assistance to you as soon as possible," he added.

Nograles said the administration is working with local government to solve the issues surrounding the aid distribution.

"We have to remember, this is the biggest financial assistance in the history of our country. We are careful in distributing the aid and we are also making sure that the assistance would reacy you without deductions and without glitches," the IATF spokesman said.

Nograles also urged local government units (LGUs) to submit memoranda of agreement they signed in relation to the aid distribution and their budget proposals to the social welfare department so they can receive the funds they would distribute to their constituents. He also reiterated that being a registered voter is not a requirement to receive subsidies.

The P200-billion social amelioration program seeks to help 18 million households, including those who lost their livelihood, since Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine last March 17. The lockdown was supposed to end Sunday but President Duterte extended it until April 30 to give the government more time to study the virus and to conduct tests.

Nograles said the government has so far distributed about half of the funds allotted for the social amelioration program this month.

Citing DSWD data, Nograles said P323 million has been distributed to 14,400 beneficiaries who belong to the transport sector. About P43 billion has been transferred to local governments while another P800 million has been released to the Bangsamoro region.

"If the amount of the social amelioration program for April is P100 billion, almost 50 percent has been released," Nograles said.

Liquidation requirements

The IATF also reminded LGUs that they won't receive additional aid if they fail to account for the subsidies they distributed.

"Unless the LGUs liquidate the money they distributed using the social amelioration funds, they won't have a second round (of assistance) because no additional funds would be given to the LGU unless they submit a liquidation report," Nograles said.

Nograles said LGUs that provided aid to people who are not supposed to receive them would be required to refund the money they distributed.

"That does not preclude government from filing any criminal, civil or administrative cases against the LGU official. Then the ineligible family, obviously, would be blacklisted," he added.

Assistance for formal workers

Nograles said the labor department has also distributed aid to 167,941 affected workers through its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program, which provides relief to workers of companies whose operations were affected by the quarantine.

The agency has also provided assistance to 124,608 individuals under its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers, which gives emergency employment to displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers.  

Earlier this month, the IATF backed the release of P5 billion for programs designed to help formal sector workers sidelined by the Luzon quarantine.

LUZON LOCKDOWN NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL AMELIORATION PROGRAM
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