The program, which provides cash aid to households sidelined by the pandemic, has served 17,579,395 beneficiaries as of May 29. The figure was equivalent to 98 percent of the 17,938,422 estimated beneficiaries.
STAR/Walter Bollozos, file
Over 350,000 households failed to get cash aid
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More than 350,000 target beneficiaries of the government’s social amelioration program (SAP) for sectors affected by quarantine restrictions have not yet received the emergency cash susbidy, a report submitted on Monday by President Duterte to Congress showed.

The program, which provides cash aid to households sidelined by the pandemic, has served 17,579,395 beneficiaries as of May 29. The figure was equivalent to 98 percent of the 17,938,422 estimated beneficiaries.

Data showed that a total of 359,027 beneficiaries have not received assistance in the first tranche of SAP distribution that started last April.

Of the 17.58 million beneficiaries who received aid, about 4.22 million are enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The bulk of beneficiaries, 13.29 million, are not 4Ps recipients. The remaining 62,028 beneficiaries who received cash assistance were transport workers in Metro Manila.

The government has allotted P101.42 billion for the SAP and has so far disbursed P100.68 billion.

A total of P99.25 billion has been distributed to beneficiaries. About P81.68 billion went to non-4Ps beneficiaries, P18.5 billion to 4Ps recipients and P496 million distributed to public transport drivers.

While the distribution of the first tranche of SAP has not been fully completed, the government is preparing for the implementation of the second phase of the program.

Duterte said as of May 27, a total of 1,259 local government units have submitted to the interior department lists of household beneficiaries who were left out or waitlisted during the first tranche.

He said the social welfare department is finalizing the joint memorandum circular that would implement his directive to include additional households as SAP beneficiaries.

The government aims to include five million more households in the program, which originally sought to help 18 million families.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said SAP beneficiaries would continue to receive aid even if quarantine restrictions have been relaxed.

“The basis is the classification of your area during the second month of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) or modified ECQ. If you live in the areas that were under ECQ or MECQ, you would still receive aid this June,” Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

Roque said the government is working on ways to distribute assistance through electronic cash transfers.

Local execs probed

At least 505 local government officials and private individuals, including 104 barangay captains, are being investigated over alleged irregularities in the distribution of the cash subsidy under SAP.

The police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) received complaints from over 380 people from April 1 to June 1 about local officials allegedly taking advantage of the government’s cash aid program.

Aside from barangay captains, CIDG deputy director for administration Brig. Gen. Rhoderick Armamento said also included in the list are about 70 barangay councilors, 35 treasurers and 23 health workers.

Armamento said two have been arrested. They were Marcialo Mendoza, 41, executive officer of Barangay New Cabalan in Olongapo City, and Ivor John Casinas, secretary and project coordination of Barangay Poblacion 2 in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

The suspects are accused of including their relatives and unqualified recipients in the list of beneficiaries and divided the cash aid to other poor families not on the list.

The CIDG has so far filed 108 cases in court, including violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Faster release

After failing to release on time the cash aid intended for beneficiaries last month, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has committed to fast-track the implementation of the SAP for poor households affected by quarantine protocols.

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said they intend to finish the distribution of the second tranche of cash subsidy within the month following the validation of lists submitted by local government units (LGUs).

According to the DSWD, around 8.5 million out of 18 million families that received the first tranche are qualified to receive the second wave of cash aid.

The beneficiaries are those living in 11 areas placed under enhanced community quarantine in May.

Another five million who were shortlisted for the first tranche would also receive cash assistance in the next round of distribution.

The DSWD stressed the need to validate the lists submitted by the LGUs to ensure the eligibility of beneficiaries.

It would also ensure that no beneficiary receives multiple aid from various government agencies.

To expedite release of the subsidy, Bautista said they would utilize the ReliefAgad mobile app that allows beneficiaries to encode forms online.

It is also an alternative to handing out physical cash as it may allow beneficiaries to receive aid online or mobile transfer to their bank accounts.

Bautista said they are also exploring partnership with digital payment centers to allow faster release of the subsidy.

There are two million beneficiaries registered with the ReliefAgad app. Emmanuel Tupas, Janvic Mateo

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