MANILA – Poor families living in highly-urbanized cities (HUCs) may get their emergency cash subsidies from the national government through electronic cash transfers, Malacañang said on Thursday.
In a virtual press briefing aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said automatic cash payouts will be performed in HUCs to hasten the distribution of financial aid to low-income households amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.
“Magkakaroon na tayo ng electronic money transfers. Gagamitin na natin ang PayMaya at iba pang mga technological innovations para mapabilis yung pamimigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayan (We will resort to electronic money transfers. We will use PayMaya and other technological innovations to speed up the distribution of assistance to our fellow countrymen),” Roque said.
Roque made the announcement, as he noted that HUCs are facing challenges when it comes to releasing the first wave of payouts for intended beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).
Roque said the contactless distribution of emergency subsidies under SAP does not apply to provinces.
“Pero sa mga probinsya po, hahayaan pa rin natin ang mga local government units (LGUs) dahil ang mga naging problema lang naman po talaga ay dito sa mga highly-urbanized cities (We will let local government units in provinces to take charge of the distribution since the problems only occurred in highly-urbanized cities),” he said.
Around 23 million SAP beneficiaries are expected to receive the first tranche of cash assistance from the national government.
As of May 13, around 12.635 million poor families have so far received the emergency subsidies, according to the data released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The deadline for LGUs’ distribution of financial aid to SAP beneficiaries already lapsed on Wednesday.
Roque, however, said the release of the first tranche of payouts will not cease until the 23 million recipients get the cash subsidies.
“Tuloy po iyan hanggang hindi natin nauubos yung pera na bigay ng Kongreso. Itutuloy po natin ang pamimigay ng ayuda (It will continue until all the funds from Congress are exhausted. We will continue distributing the cash aid),” he said.
44 local execs face raps
Some SAP beneficiaries have lamented that they have yet to receive the cash aid.
There have also been complaints about the supposed irregularities in the SAP implementation involving local officials.
Roque said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has already filed criminal and administrative cases against 44 erring village captains engaged in the unlawful distribution of cash assistance to poor families.
”Kahapon po inanunsiyo ko na meron ng 188 ongoing investigations. At mabilis po ang resulta ng imbestigasyon. Cuarenta y cuatro na pong mga barangay captain ang kinasuhan ng ating DILG. Ang kaso po ay parehong criminal at administrative (I announced yesterday that there are 188 ongoing investigations. The results of the investigation are done. DILG filed cases against 44 village captains. The cases are both criminal and administrative),” he said.
Distribution of 2nd tranche already started
SAP beneficiaries are entitled to get cash subsidies ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 for the months of April and May.
The second tranche of emergency subsidies can only be released once LGUs finish their liquidation reports.
Roque said the distribution of the second wave of cash aid already began in some areas in the country.
He noted that 13 million will benefit from the implementation of the second phase of SAP.
“Ang kinakailangan lang po is mapakita na natapos na nila yung first tranche. May mga lugar po na namimigay na ng second tranche (The only requirement is they must be done with the distribution of the first tranche [of emergency subsidies]. There are some areas where the second tranche is already being distributed),” Roque said.
No need for supplemental budget yet
Roque reiterated that poor families residing in areas under enhanced community quarantine will be entitled to the second wave of emergency subsidies because the government only has limited funds.
Despite the limited funds granted to the government, Roque said there is no need yet to ask Congress to approve a supplemental budget to augment the funding for the Covid-19 response.
Roque, however, admitted that the government might ask for as a supplemental budget if the funds earmarked for SAP implementation are not enough.
“So far, wala pa tayong hinihinging supplemental budget pero depende na po iyan sa kung anong mangyayari, unang-una, kung anong mangyayari dito sa SAP (So far, we are not yet asking for a supplemental budget but it depends on what will happen, first and foremost, on what will happen in SAP implementation),” he said. “At kung kulang pa rin, syempre, hihingi tayo ng supplemental budget (If the budget is not enough, we will ask for a supplemental budget). (PNA)