MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday disclosed that he is “careful” in processing the release of PHP200-billion worth of emergency subsidies that would be granted to 18 million poor households affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
In an address to the nation aired on state-run PTV-4, Duterte said he was meticulous when it came to the details of the distribution of relief to avoid the possible commission of corrupt activities by some unscrupulous individuals.
He also explained that he had to strip local government units (LGUs) of their role to provide emergency aid to make sure that beneficiaries would receive the full financial aid from the national government.
“Kaya careful ako. Tinanggal ko. Wala akong sinabi sa LGU. Wala rin akong sinabi sa barangay captain. Kailangan ko sila. Pero maya, ‘yung magdating doon, makulang ang pera. ‘Pag ibigay mo, PHP5,000, ibigay, PHP3,000 lang. Kupit doon (That’s why I’m careful. I need the LGUs and village captains but there’s a possibility that the money would be pilfered that beneficiaries might get only PHP3,000 instead of PHP5,000),” Duterte said.
On Wednesday, the President tapped the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to lead the relief efforts, following complaints on the supposed unfair distribution of relief by some LGUs.
While he acknowledged the complaints against LGUs, Duterte said he believes that mayors and village captains are not involved in corrupt activities.
“There’s always the sense of competition on anything that comes from government. And mauna niyan, iyan nga yung kaltas-kaltas. The mayor, hindi niya gagawin iyan kasi matatalo siya sa elections, nor the barangay captains. But down the line, hindi ko na masabi. Wala naman ako (Mayors and village captains will not do that because they might lose in the election. But down the line, I cannot say). I’m not accusing anybody,” he said.
Duterte noted that to avoid a “disaster”, he delegated the task of distributing the assistance to the DSWD led by Secretary Rolando “Rolly” Bautista.
He added that he would allow the DSWD to seek the military’s help to ensure the speedy distribution of aid.
“Sinabi ko kay Rolly, Gen. Bautista, secretary ng DSWD, ‘Ikaw na ang humawak.’ Ang problema ngayon, sabi niya hindi kaya. Hindi kaya ang distribution. Kulang ang tao niya (I told Gen. Rolly Bautista, secretary of DSWD, to lead the distribution. The problem is, he said the distribution could not be done due to the lack of manpower). He can always call the armed forces,” the President said.
Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, inked by Duterte on March 24, mandates the granting of a monthly emergency subsidy ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000, depending on the regional minimum wage, to about 18 million low-income families to help them with the stress brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Poor households from Manila and Parañaque were the first beneficiaries to receive emergency subsidies from the national government on Friday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the subsidies for other beneficiaries would be released in the coming days.
Under the PHP200-billion Emergency Subsidy Program, beneficiaries in Metro Manila will receive PHP8,000 each, while those in Central Luzon and Calabarzon will get PHP6,500 each.
Poor families in Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Davao region will be granted a PHP6,000 subsidy each, while those living in the Cordillera, Ilocos, and Cagayan Valley will take home PHP5,500 each.
A subsidy of PHP5,000 will be distributed to each beneficiary-family in Mimaropa, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Duterte advised beneficiaries to stay home because the government will go to them directly to give assistance.
“Diyan lang kayo. Huwag kayong lumabas. Pupuntahan kayo (Just stay home and don’t go outside. The assigned government personnel will go to you to give the aid),” he said. (PNA)