By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has once again tapped the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the sole agency to lead in the distribution of emergency subsidies to poor families under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Duterte gave the latest directive to DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, as he acknowledged the mounting complaints against the supposed irregularities in the release of payout for intended beneficiaries of SAP.
In a taped public address aired on state-run PTV-4 on Tuesday, Duterte lamented that his “nightmare” about the unlawful distribution of cash aid to low-income households had become a reality.
“Ngayon para talagang walang ano (To avoid any irregularities), I will ask General Bautista to use solely ang kanilang ano (his department [to distribute the emergency subsidies to poor families]). Full charge sa DSWD (DSWD will take full charge of it),” he said during his meeting with Cabinet officials at Malacañan Palace on Monday night.
On April 1, Duterte tasked DSWD, as well as Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of government’s national policy against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), to lead the relief efforts to poor families affected by the health crisis in the country.
The role of local government units (LGUs) was supposed to be limited to assisting the DSWD in relief distribution after being stripped of their role to distribute the cash subsidies to SAP beneficiaries.
The DSWD, however, admitted earlier that it has limited capacity to fully implement SAP, prompting the agency to seek LGUs’ help to ensure the speedy distribution of the emergency subsidies.
To address complaints on the SAP implementation, Duterte said he had directed Bautista to ask for the military’s assistance in distributing the emergency subsidies.
“Alam kong walang tao. Ang order ko sa kaniya kanina nung nag-meeting kami na he will request ang kapwa niya sundalo noon – eh retired na ‘to that’s why he’s in the Cabinet – na magpatulong siya sa armed forces sa pag-distribute ng pera (I know DSWD has limited personnel. My order to him during our meeting earlier is to request for the help of the armed forces in distributing the money),” Duterte said.
Under the SAP, the emergency subsidies worth between PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 must be granted to poor families to help them cope with the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
LGUs are mandated to distribute the money downloaded to them by DSWD for the implementation of SAP.
Around 12.282 million SAP recipients who are not part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) have already received the cash aid from the national government, according to the data uploaded on DSWD’s official website.
LGUs have so far distributed PHP74.404 billion out of PHP81.159 billion downloaded to them by DSWD for non-4Ps beneficiaries who must receive the emergency subsidies.
LGUs were initially instructed to complete the release of the payout on April 30.
However, the deadline for the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies was once again extended until May 13 due to LGUs’ failure to comply with the original deadline.