Local governments urged to deliver cash aid to senior citizens, PWDs

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Local governments urged to deliver cash aid to senior citizens, PWDs
Photo shows some of 3818 beneficiaries of Social Amelioration Program in Brgy. Pasong Tamo in Quezon City lining up on the morning of May 4, 2020. Quezon City which is composed of 30 percent population of Metro Manila continous distribution following the Department of Interior Local Government’s extension of four to seven days for the distribution to beneficiaries in their areas of jurisdiction.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development urged senior citizens and persons with disability to stay at home, saying local governments should find ways—including delivering the financial aid directly— to get government subsidies to their intended beneficiaries. 

"In the distribution of assistance, DSWD reminds our partners in implementation that payout should be done through door-to-door, especially for the senior citizens and persons with disabilit," DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao told Philstar.com after a PWD beneficiary had difficulty in receiving aid.

"If door-to-door is not possible, a healthy and abled-body member of the family should be allowed to receive the aid," she added. 

This follows an account of a PWD who was made to travel to the Imus City Social Welfare and Development Office to claim his stub.

In an earlier phone call with Philstar.com, 42-year-old Roy Moral, who suffers from ankylosing spondylitis which renders him unable to walk, said he did send his wife as a representative to claim his stub. After the latter came with the necessary documents, though, she was told that he was required to be physically present in order to claim his money. 

They did not bother looking at the documents she brought, he said, because they needed him there so the office could take a picture of him being handed the money. 

Under the Local Government Code, local government units are made to "discharge the functions and responsibilities of national agencies and offices devolved to them," while the departments have regional offices to provide technical expertise, among others.

READ: 'No consideration': In pain, PWD with walking ailment forced to personally claim aid at CSWD

The department also said it issued the advisory in response to cases of senior citizens who passed away while queuing to receive their cash subsidies, whose bereaved families the department ensured would be given the appropriate assistance.

"The DSWD also urges the local government units (LGUs) to have a standby ambulance with available paramedics in the site/s of payout. Compliance with the stringent social distancing measures in the identified distribution points is likewise enjoined to ensure the safety of the beneficiaries," DSWD's advisory also said. 

"Moreover, the DSWD highly recommended that the LGUs do a door-to-door delivery of cash aid to families with senior citizens and persons with disability as family heads so they will no longer need to go out of their homes, [and] the existing conditions of these sectors shall likewise be taken into consideration so the queuing protocols may not cause them inconvenience or difficulty."

Senior citizens and PWDs are included under the DSWD's social amelioration program. Experts say, however, that the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is much more fatal and transmissible for the immunocompromised, making it risky for them to go out and line up for government aid.

According to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine, persons below 21 or over 60 years old, as well as pregnant women and those with immunodeficiency, comorbidities, and other health risks, are required to remain in their residences at all times, as they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Social amelioration aid from the department of from P5,000 to P8,000 a month for two months is given to families affected by COVID-19 as part of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

As of April 30, only 12% of local government units had accomplished distributing the first tranche of emergency aid for vulnerable sectors affected by the quarantine—which includes PWDs—according to President Rodrigo Duterte's sixth weekly report to Congress on the usage of his emergency powers. 

RELATED: Metro Manila LGUs among slowest to give cash aid – DSWD

In an earlier statement, the Commission on Human Rights said: "Majority of Filipinos with disabilities belong to poor families with minimum wage earners under the ‘no work, no pay’ scheme. They do not have enough money to stock up on basic food items, medicines, and other essentials."

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