MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte understands the plight of local government units (LGUs) in distributing the cash assistance from the national government to the poor families affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Friday.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier gave some LGUs another week to finish the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies to low-income households affected by Covid-19 pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was initially “frustrated” about the supposed delays in the distribution of the cash relief but eventually understood that local officials are facing challenges in implementing the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
“So naintindihan naman po ng Pangulo iyan, at frustrated lang siya pero gagawin pa rin po natin ang kayang gawin (So the President understands the situation. He was just frustrated but we will do everything [to distribute the cash aid],” Roque said in an interview with state-run Radyo Pilipinas.
On Thursday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año announced that LGUs in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Cebu City, and Davao City will be given another seven days to distribute the emergency subsidies under SAP.
Año added that a four-day extension will be granted to other LGUs that are experiencing payout problems.
The deadline for the distribution of the first tranche of emergency subsidies was supposed to be on April 30.
The government also warned that local officials who failed to finish the distribution of cash aid by April 30 will face administrative and criminal cases.
Roque, citing explanations from other LGUs, said there was a problem in implementing SAP because strict social distancing needs to be observed.
He hoped that local officials would now be able to give the emergency subsidies to poor families before the seven-day extension expires.
“Noong una po ay binigyan talaga sila ng warning… Binigyan nga sila ng palugit ng pitong araw. Pero tingin ko naman matapos ang pitong araw, dapat naman ay majority kung hindi po kabuuan ng mga ayuda ay dapat nakarating na sa mga nangangailangan (They were initially warned… But they were given another seven days [to finish the distribution]. I hope most or all of the emergency subsidies will be distributed to the needy people within seven days),” Roque said.
The PHP200-billion SAP states that each of the 18 million low-income households will be granted emergency subsidies ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to help them cope with the situation amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Some 10.12 million poor families have already received the cash aid, based on the SAP Monitoring Dashboard for Emergency Subsidy uploaded on the official website of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The LGUs has so far disbursed PHP37.31 billion of the PHP80.79 billion downloaded to them by the DSWD for the implementation of SAP.
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said the second tranche of assistance to poor families would be given to LGUs once their liquidation reports are validated.
Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will discuss during its Friday meeting the distribution of second tranche of emergency subsidies.
He floated the possibility that the second tranche of emergency subsidies would be distributed to poor families residing in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Tingin ko po, bagama’t pagpupulungan pa ito ng IATF, ang magiging desisyon siguro ay hindi na bigyan ang lahat ‘no, baka ibigay na lang sa ECQ (I think, the IATF might limit the distribution to families in areas under ECQ),” Roque said. (ia/PNA)