religious groups in the Philippines

DSWD partners with DICT for automated emergency subsidies

Michelle Abad
DSWD partners with DICT for automated emergency subsidies
The DSWD and DICT are working together to develop an app that would facilitate electronic cash transfers for poor families affected by the coronavirus lockdown

MANILA, Philippines – As the second month of the emergency subsidy program (ESP) approaches, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced it is partnering with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to perform automated cash payouts for poor families.

The current setup calls for social workers and local government officials to go house to house in administering social amelioration cards and handing over the cash subsidies.

“Ang ahensya ay nakipag-ugnayan sa DICT para sa pag-develop ng isang aplikasyon para sa mga benepisyaryo na makapag-register at makatanggap ng automated payments,” DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said in a press briefing on Tuesday, April 28.

(The [DSWD] is coordinating with the DICT to develop an application for beneficiaries to register and receive automated payments.) 

Tayo po ay nakipag-usap sa mga third party payment platforms upang tingnan kung paano makapag-transfer ng funds sa paraang safe at efficient,” said Bautista.

(We are talking to third party payment platforms to see how to transfer funds safely and efficiently.)

Bautista did not specify they payment platforms the agency is eyeing.

The original ESP was meant to cater to 18 million poor families nationwide that were further affected by the coronavirus lockdown – where they would receive a subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 a month for April and May.

However, on Friday, April 24, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced that there was a shift in policy that would prioritize only the poor families in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after April 30. Families under general quarantine would no longer receive cash aid.

The DSWD said it is still in the process of formulating guidelines on this new directive with other agencies, namely, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Their recommendations would still need to be approved by the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) before the directive is fully effective.

The implementation of the ESP so far has faced several problems, with local officials striving to reconcile the national list with the actual families in need, and poor families left in limbo with supposed aid that is slow to arrive.

The Philippines is under a state of calamity due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Luzon under lockdown until April 30. Other localities have declared lockdowns on their own to curb the spread of the disease. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer with the investigative unit of Rappler. She also covers overseas Filipinos and the rights of women and children.