Duterte says only 207 out of 1,634 LGUs have completed cash aid distribution

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte says only 207 out of 1,634 LGUs have completed cash aid distribution
In this May 4, 2020, some 3,818 beneficiaries of Social Amelioration Program in Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City lined up early morning for the cash aid distribution.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, File

MANILA, Philippines — Only about 12% of local governments have finished the distribution of the first tranche of emergency aid for sectors sidelined by the quarantine as of April 30, a report submitted by President Rodrigo Duterte to Congress showed.

In his sixth weekly report on the government's pandemic response, Duterte said 207 out of 1,634 local government units (LGUs) have accomplished 100 percent payout in their respective localities as of April 30. The cash assistance coursed through LGUs were intended for more than 13 million households who are not yet enrolled in the government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino cash transfer program or 4Ps

The interior department initially gave LGUs until April 30 to complete the distribution of the first tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP). The agency has granted a seven-day extension to LGUs with huge number of beneficiaries.

Out of the about 13.56 million intended beneficiaries who are not enrolled in 4Ps, only about 6.45 million have received aid.

Of the P82.04 billion budget allocated for non-4Ps beneficiaries, P80.56 billion have been downloaded to 1,515 LGUs. Out of the 18 million households total intended beneficiaries of the SAP, 10.29 million households have been served as of May 1. Aside from non-4Ps households, other beneficiaries of the aid program are 4Ps households, affected formal workers, displaced overseas Filipino workers, informal workers and rice farmers.

Duterte admitted that the social welfare department has encountered problems in the implementation of SAP. These problems are the postponement of payout because of exposure of the staff to positive coronavirus cases and non observance by target-recipients of preventive measures during distribution; threats received by social welfare personnel from LGU officials in some areas; and slow processing by LGUs, specifically at the barangay level due to reports of politicizing or inaccurate lists of eligible beneficiaries.

Duterte said the social welfare department has formed monitoring teams to work closely with LGUs, the military, and the police to address the problems.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured the public that the distribution of the second tranche of SAP would be more efficient.  

"We admit that the first tranche has not been completely distributed to our countrymen... But we promise you that we have learned from the earlier experience of distributing the first tranche and we will definitely be more efficient in distributing the second tranche," Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

Roque said the government still has enough funds for its pandemic response and is not yet requesting a supplemental budget from Congress. 

The government is increasing the number of SAP beneficiaries from 18 million to 23 million but  details of the additional funding are still being threshed out. 

Roque said the transportation department has also proposed programs that would provide relief to transport workers.

They include the giving of fuel subsidy equivalent to 30 percent of daily fuel consumption, loan arrangements, and the  deferment of payment to financial institution of amortizations without interest.

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