MANILA – Deputy Speaker Danilo Fernandez on Thursday said the working poor mainly in the informal sector should be prioritized during the extension of the deadline for the distribution of cash assistance under the government’s social amelioration program (SAP).
Fernandez said the government must take advantage of the extension to effectively distribute the much-needed cash aid to the informal sector workers, stressing that the restrictive processes in place must be lifted.
He noted that the process observed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) required beneficiaries to undergo “identification, validation and revalidation”, which he described as “counterproductive.”
“This is a dangerous time and that is the reason why the power of oversight is being seen and being implemented right now. During a crisis, we cannot be slow. Time is of the essence” Fernandez said.
He said the agency ignored the recommended process made by the House of Representatives, “only to make the country’s poor and near-poor families wait longer for cash benefits urgently needed by them.”
“I have to say that the House leadership’s specific recommendations to the DSWD for a more expeditious SAP process were sadly ignored,” he added.
He also called for the approval of the proposed Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Sector, citing that the sector, despite being among the poorest of the poor workers in the country, was able to contribute around PHP5.7 trillion or 33 percent of the gross domestic product.
The local government units (LGUs) were initially told to complete the payout on April 30.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), however, gave LGUs in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Cebu City, and Davao City another seven days or until May 7 to finish the distribution of cash assistance to low-income households.
On Thursday, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año extended to May 10 the deadline for the distribution of the first tranche in “some other areas” of Metro Manila.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said some 75 percent of low-income households have already received the cash aid from the national government under the SAP.
Under the PHP200-billion SAP, the LGUs, in coordination with the DSWD, are mandated to distribute the emergency subsidies, ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000, to poor families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (IA/PNA)