Metro LGUs lament delay in 2nd SAP distribution
In Quezon City, only 151,192 out of the 337,584 identified SAP recipients have so far received the second tranche of P8,000 subsidy from the national government.
STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file
Metro LGUs lament delay in 2nd SAP distribution
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Problems on the delivery of the second tranche of the social amelioration program or SAP have been pointed out by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who chairs the Metro Manila Council (MMC).

In Quezon City, only 151,192 out of the 337,584 identified SAP recipients have so far received the second tranche of P8,000 subsidy from the national government.

Meanwhile, out of the 217,386 waitlisted families in the city, only 203,896 have received the promised cash aid.

Belmonte earlier this week said they have reached out to the Department of Social Welfare and Development to communicate the concerns raised by residents over the delay in the release of financial assistance.

“The DSWD has finally responded to our appeal for clarification,” she said in Filipino. “Many of our residents are complaining to us. Most of them have lost their livelihood and have no money to spend on daily necessities.”

Unlike the first tranche that was distributed by the local governments, the release of the second tranche of financial subsidy is being handled by the DSWD, which contracted financial service providers or FSPs to do the job.

Olivarez, the guest at Wednesday’s “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” news forum, said that was part of the problem.

In Navotas City, Mayor Toby Tiangco also lamented “issues” that have set back the distribution of the second tranche SAP. “There’s so many issues; no one even answers their hotline,” Tiangco told The STAR.

Jennifer Serrano, Navotas city social welfare and development officer, confirmed that discrepancies resulted in a total of 8,990 so-called “failed transactions” for availment of the cash aid.

“Mostly the problem is the discrepancy in the name printed in the SAC forms,” said Serrano, noting that the lists had come from the so-called “de-duplicated” list from the DSWD itself.

As problems on SAP distribution lingered, new guidelines are being crafted to implement the cash subsidy or “ayuda” for needy families under the recently enacted Bayanihan to Recover as One Law or “Bayanihan 2.”

“The guidelines are currently being crafted for the implementation of the emergency subsidy,” Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said in Filipino at a briefing last Tuesday.

“The DSWD assures that appropriate consultation with other government agencies will be conducted to properly implement the provisions of the law,” he said.

Under the new law, cash aid amounting to P5,000 up to P8,000 will be provided to affected low-income households in areas under granular lockdown.

Also eligible for the cash aid are households with recently returned overseas Filipino workers.

The amount of subsidy will be computed based on prevailing regional wage rates.

Bautista said they expect the payout for the new round of subsidy to be faster than previous tranches as the department already has a validated the list of beneficiaries.

He said they will take into account their experiences from the implementation of the first two tranches of the SAP in crafting the guidelines for the new cash aid program.

But Bautista’s assurance comes even as the DSWD is still scrambling to complete distribution of the second tranche of SAP for poor households affected by the quarantine.

As of Sept. 15, the DSWD said it has already distributed the second tranche intended for the month of May to over 13.8 million beneficiaries.

It has a total target of 14.1 million families for the cash assistance program.

Communicate problems, LGUs told

Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya advised local government units (LGUs) to communicate problems regarding their constituents who have not yet received their cash aid to the DSWD.

“They (LGUs) are advised to closely coordinate with the DSWD field offices to relay the concerns of their constituents,” Malaya said in a text message, after he learned that 60 percent of the SAP beneficiaries in Quezon City have not yet received the second-tranche subsidy.

Citing information from DSWD, Belmonte said the delay in the distribution in Quezon City was due to lack of information, particularly the contact numbers of beneficiaries.

The problem was the same in Parañaque. “We have already met [with the DSWD] about the system. We are all having difficulties, because there are beneficiaries who do not own a cellular phone. The LGU, the barangay and the DSWD are now helping each other to deliver the aid,” Olivarez said in Filipino.

To date, only 76,674 households in Parañaque have received the second tranche SAP, which is not even half of the city’s 170,000 listed beneficiaries. On top of that, 46,000 households in the city are still waitlisted, Olivarez said.

“In fairness to the national government, the money is there. It is for distribution. It is just a matter of deliverables,” he said.

But in view of the backlog, Olivarez said that a house-to-house distribution may again be implemented, with the cities taking the lead anew.

Earlier, the DSWD partnered with online payment facilities supposedly to hasten the process, but it encountered problems with these FSPs on the cash aid.

This system of distribution started as early as three months ago or July, under the guidance of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which helped in selecting the FSPs for the digital disbursement.

In identifying the FSPs, BSP explained that primary considerations were given to the presence of payout partners to ensure ease and ability to cash out by beneficiaries balanced with other considerations such as: presence of any business model institutions, historical experience in commercial rollout, and type of cash out points that may contribute to ensuring liquidity or availability of cash.

Now, a new payout facility is being tapped by the DSWD to handle the release of cash aid, especially for those who do not have contact numbers for wire transfers, Belmonte said.

“They are just ironing out the details so that it can be implemented immediately and enable our residents to benefit from the (SAP) promised to them by the national government,” she added.

The target distribution using the new payout facility is expected to commence in October.

Aside from the national government’s SAP, Olivarez said Parañaque has also allocated P300 million for its local financial aid, particularly to drivers of jeepneys and tricycles.

Almost a thousand jeepney drivers received their SAP, he said, since they are the “priority beneficiaries.”

However, he bewailed the plight of tricycle drivers who seemed to have been left out and remain waitlisted. “The tricycle drivers are among the largest sectors who are left behind... And to think it took them long before they are allowed to traverse the roads, only during the modified enhanced community quarantine,” the mayor said. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Ranier Allan Ronda, Emmanuel Tupas

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