Cash aid received by most LGUs but has reached few target beneficiaries, Duterte tells Congress

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Cash aid received by most LGUs but has reached few target beneficiaries, Duterte tells Congress
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 13, 2020.
Presidential Photo / Karl Norman Alonzo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 9:58 p.m., April 29) — President Rodrigo Duterte told Congress Monday that more than 90% of all local government units in the country have received funds for their social amelioration programs under the Department of Social Welfare and Development. 

Duterte's previous report saw the Department of Social Welfare and Development looking for ways to speed up the release of subsidies to Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Filipinos reporting that they had not yet received government aid, more than a month after the president was granted sweeping special powers. 

READ: Coronavirus response depletes government cash

In his fifth weekly report to Congress, the president bared that 1,490 of the 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country have received their SAP funds from the DSWD—which is said to have standby funds amounting to P450 million. 

However, these have yet to reach their targets as only 2,504,221 of the department's 13,556,093 target low-income non-4P beneficiaries have been paid or just 18%, as only P14 billion of the disbursed P79 billion has been received by target beneficiaries. 

This, while 3,721,883 of the 4.4 million listed Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P) beneficiaries have been served, or 85%. P16.3 billion of the allocated P16.5 billion has been received by the department's targets. 

On the other hand, 40,418 families of some 90,000 transport network vehicle service (TNVS) and public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers (45%) have been given aid, with the entirety of the disbursed P323.3 million fund supposedly being received. 

READ: Aid woes reveal Philippines failed to learn its lessons

For affected formal workers, P1.72 billion of the projected P1.74 disbursement has already been utilized for 344,805 of an estimated 349,354 beneficiaries. 

Meanwhile, DSWD's TUPAD program has uitlized P575.2 million of its allocated P966.5 to provide for 220,320 of an estimated 235,949 affected informal workers (93%).

Marginalized and small farmers and fisherfolk (MSFFs) have seen much of the same, as the Department of Agriculture (DA) has reportedly only served 777 out of a target 40,000 MSFF beneficiaries, or just 19%, while only 15 out of 150, or 10%, of agri-based micro and small enterprises have been served under the department's Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project. 

Under the DA, an estimate of 591,246 rice farmers is allocated P3 billion; however, the report says that only P645 million of this has been disbursed, benefiting a meager 53,881 rice farmers as of April 22. 

The president's report also disclosed that as of Friday, April 24, the DA  has distributed 77,119 agrarian reform beneficiary identification cards to affected farmers in need of livelihood assistance, noting that some farmers were not entitled to existing SAPs. 

READ: DSWD says LGUs 'responsible' if second tranche of aid delayed

"The national government is continuously monitoring LGUs as regards their compliance with the rules and guidelines enforced during the enhanced community quarantine. The Department of Interior and Local Government has issued show cause orders against officials of LGUs that were found to have violated the aforesaid rules and guidelines," the report said. 

Testing efforts

Enhanced testing efforts have long been underway, Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Rosette Vergeire often stressed at briefings. 

According to the president's report, the Food and Drug Administration has reportedly received 520 applications for test kits as of April 22, with 153 of these already being approved and another 54 pending requirements for compliance. 

An additional 9,000 RT-PCR test kits, which the health department claims as the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, is expected to arrive in the Philippines on Monday or Tuesday. 

As of April 24, the report said, the Department of Health has opened 19 laboratories and hospitals leading to a maximum testing capacity of 6,220 per day—a significant jump from the Health Department's earlier reported figure of just 4,500. 

Furthermore, the contracts of 15,757 healthcare professionals have been approved by the Department of Budget and Management. 

This, as eighteen public sites have been converted into quarantine facilities to augment the need for further capacity. 

READ: Government readies 7,000 hospital beds in COVID-19 isolation hubs

According to the report, the DOH had a total of 7,732 beds and 1,381 mechanical ventilators dedicated for COVID-19 patients—both significant decreases from last week's report—while a total of 44 new evacuation centers converted into quarantine and health facilities were also slated to add a total of 1,721 patients to the health system's capacity.  

Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology is set to commence clinical trials on virgin coconut oil as a possible treatment for COVID-19. 

The department also set aside funds for a project that is expected to see 22 hospitals "participate in a multicenter trial that will provide data on the efficacy of candidate anti-viral drugs" to carriers of the new pathogen. 

The full report can be accessed below. 

If you believe you have come into possible contact with infected patients, you may be directed to the proper office of the Department of Health for advice through the following lines: (632) 8651-7800 local 1149/1150 or (632) 165-364.

You may also opt to call the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at (02) 8807-2631/ 8807-2632/ 8807-2637. The general public has also been encouraged to forward its concerns to the Health Department's dedicated 24/7 COVID-19 hotlines (02) 894-COVID and 1555 (free for all subscribers).

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