Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is expecting the speedy distribution of cash aid to indigent families now that the police and the military are tapped to assist the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in implementing the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), Malacañang said on Thursday.

”Naniniwala po ang Presidente na kung tutulong ang mga sundalo [at pulis], mas magiging mabilis po ang proseso (The President believes that with the help of soldiers and policemen, there will be a speedy [distribution of cash assistance]),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.

In a meeting with Duterte at Malacañan Palace on Tuesday night, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said DSWD is working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to make sure that they will have a role in the distribution of cash assistance to low-income households.

The AFP and the PNP have already expressed readiness to help in the release of emergency subsidies for the poor families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Roque clarified that local government units (LGUs) would not be totally stripped of their role in the implementation of SAP.

“Hindi naman ibig sabihin ay itsapuwera na ang mga barangay, siyempre mayroon pa rin pong importansiya dahil kakilala nila iyong mga tao sa lugar (That does not mean we are not asking for village officials’ help. We still need them because they know their constituents in their localities),” he said.

Duterte on May 11 once again delegated the DSWD as the sole agency to implement SAP following mounting complaints against supposed irregularities in the release of payouts for indigent families.

Duterte said the DSWD may also seek the military’s help in distributing the cash aid.

Roque said the latest move was only meant to ensure that the financial aid would be given to the rightful beneficiaries of SAP.

“Isipin ninyo na lang ‘yung mga nandadaya diyan, ‘yung mga kumakana diyan ay maiiwasan dahil wala na pong hihingi ng hati doon sa mga tao na binibigay sa mga beneficiaries (Just think of those who are committing irregularities and are getting a cut from SAP beneficiaries),” Roque said.

Around 23 village officials are currently facing criminal charges for supposed anomalies in the distribution of SAP.

Four other village officials are expected to face criminal cases while 110 others are currently under “case buildup.”

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said LGUs have so far distributed the cash aid to 97 percent of SAP beneficiaries.

Under the SAP, each low-income household will receive a monthly emergency subsidy worth between PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 for April and May to help them sustain their needs amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Around 23 million families will receive the first tranche of cash aid, while some 18 million households will get the second wave of financial assistance.

The second phase of SAP can only be implemented once LGUs complete their liquidation reports of the first tranche and Palace released a memorandum which contains guidelines for the distribution of the emergency subsidies.

Roque said the memorandum might be released next week.

“Marami naman pong mga naka-liquidate na diyan at inaantay na lang po ang kumpas galing nga sa Office of the Executive Secretary kung kailan masisimulan ito ‘no (Many [of the LGUs] are already done with their liquidation and we’re just awaiting the Office of the Executive Secretary’s guidance as to when can we start implementing [the second phase of SAP]),” he said. (ia/PNA)

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