Latin America

Lockdown cash aid reached only 56% of target beneficiaries in April

Michelle Abad
Lockdown cash aid reached only 56% of target beneficiaries in April

Rappler.com

Under the government's emergency subsidy program, 18 million poor families are supposed to get cash subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 for April and May

MANILA, Philippines – Around 7.8 million families deemed eligible for the emergency subsidy program (ESP) have not received the cash aid promised to them by the government for the month of April, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Friday, May 1.

Under the ESP, 18 million poor families are supposed to get cash subsidies of P5,000 to P8,000 for April and May. As of April 30, only around 10.1 million families –  around 56% of the target beneficiaries – received their cash aid.

Most of the families under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) received their aid, but less than half of the non-4Ps qualified beneficiaries received theirs.

PROGRESS REPORT. The DSWD shows figures of the target beneficiaries of the ESP versus the number of actual number of served families as of April 30. Screenshot sourced by Rappler

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which leads the implementation of the ESP, earlier said it expected the April payouts to be completed by April 30.

Only P53.8 billion reached the 10.1 million families as of Thursday, April 30.

The total budget for the ESP for two months is P196 billion, which the national governemnt has released in full to the DSWD.

DSWD also has a grievance mechanism that allows excluded families who deemed themselves eligible to appeal to be a part of the program.

Delays on LGUs

Malacañang warned on Tuesday, April 28, that local officials who fail to fully distribute cash aid on time could be liable for criminal or administrative charges. The DSWD also announced that LGUs that fail to submit their April liquidation report on time would receive their May subsidies late.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) however, said on Thursday, April 30, that it would give a 7-day extension to some localities which are densely populated to complete their April payouts.

Malacañang also announced a shift in policy for the ESP, saying that only poor families under areas with enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after April 30 would receive subsidies in May. The DSWD said the final guidelines from the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases are expected to be relesed on Friday, May 1.

Both local officials and constitutents have experienced dilemmas in the current implementation of the ESP. For one, there were cases when the estimated number of  beneficiaries did not match the number of people the DSWD deemed qualiflied for the aid.

Safety nets

The DSWD gave a progress report as of May 1 on safety net programs apart from the ESP.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said 32,823 clients were provided with medical, burial, educational, food and non-food assistance, including 6,478 stranded individuals. The total amount given to these clients is P139.8 million.

Bautista disclosed 579,558 food packs valued at P238.4 million were distributed to LGUs. He also said enhanced guidelines on the Supplemental Feeding Program that would prioritize children and minimize exposure were circulated among DSWD’s field offices.

The DSWD said 289,103 beneficiaries of its social pension program received their stipends amounting to P710.5 million.

Other ongoing safety net programs of the DSWD are psychosocial services and psychological first aid, the Balik-Probinsya Program, and residential care facilities. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.