Fri. Sep 17th, 2021

MANILA – The largest bulk of the PHP100-billion budget for the second tranche of emergency subsidies under the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) will be electronically distributed to indigent families, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government intends to give the second wave of payouts to SAP beneficiaries through electronic cash transfers to ensure faster distribution of the cash aid amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Not a whole [of PHP100 billion] will be downloaded to the government anymore because we’re hoping that bulk of it will be transferred electronically to the beneficiaries,” Roque said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

On May 14, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched the web application “ReliefAgad” to speed up the distribution of emergency subsidies to low-income Filipino households affected by the health crisis.

ReliefAgad, a quick-relief system, would allow DSWD to quickly get the details of SAP beneficiaries and distribute the cash aid through an electronic payment using their smartphones.

Roque said any inconvenience would now be avoided since SAP recipients need not claim the financial assistance from their local government units (LGUs).

“We’re going to amend the way the second tranche of SAP will be distributed. We’re primarily availing now of electronic means so most of the beneficiaries will be receiving through electronic means, no longer through local government units,” he said. “Given the mode of distribution now chosen by the DSWD, I think it will be a lot faster compared to the first one.”

Many SAP beneficiaries have complained about the supposed irregularities in the LGUs’ distribution of emergency subsidies.

In an effort to stop the supposed involvement of local officials in corrupt activities, Roque said the military would help in the distribution of cash aid to poor households who do not want the automated disbursement of emergency subsidies.

“And the rest who opt to receive them in cash, that’s where we will physically distribute them anew with the assistance of the armed forces, but still with the coordination of the local government units,” he said.

SAP, the national government’s PHP200-billion program, grants monthly emergency subsidy ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to low-income families for the months of April and May to help them cope with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Around PHP100 billion have already been released for the implementation of the first phase of SAP.

Some 18 million poor families, as provided under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, would receive the first tranche of the cash aid.

For the second tranche of emergency subsidies, only the 12 million of 18 million families who are living in areas under enhanced community quarantine will get the assistance, according to a Palace memorandum inked on May 22.

An additional 5 million indigent families will join the 12 million under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program, one of the 13 social amelioration packages under SAP that grants outright cash of either PHP3,000 or PHP5,000 and PHP25,000 burial aid for those whose family member dies due to Covid-19.

Malacañang on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong with the government’s move to include an additional 5 million low-income households in the roster of beneficiaries of the second tranche of cash assistance. (IA/PNA)

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