BARMM reports 86% distribution of coronavirus cash aid

The transition government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) reported distributing 86.4% of the emergency subsidy for low-income families on Tuesday, May 19, 4 days after its self-imposed target to complete distribution.

The figure is from data sent to Rappler by the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) after the central government stated that less than half of the subsidy allocated for BARMM reached beneficiaries.

President Rodrigo Duterte's 8th report to Congress on government efforts during the crisis showed that only 47.48% of the funds downloaded to the region (or P429,630,000 out of P904,895,000) were released to beneficiaries.

That figure, however, was as of May 14 or a day before the ministry's self-imposed target on May 15.

The social services ministry's updated figures show that 438,491 target beneficiaries out of 506,954 (or 86.4%) have received emergency cash aid as of Tuesday.

Ministry of Social Services and Development data:

However, this number includes 13 local government units that directly implemented the emergency subsidy program themselves, after this task was devolved to them. A total of P114,217,000 was disbursed to these LGUs and there is no data on how many of their constituents actually received that subsidy.

Beneficiary households not in the 4Ps program were given P5,000 while 4Ps beneficiary households were given P3,650.

Some 53% (P52 million out of P97.7 million) of the funds for 4Ps beneficiaries with cash cards were received by beneficiaries while 90% (P984.7 million out of P1.1 billion) of funds for 4Ps beneficiaries without cash cards reached the beneficiaries themselves.

Meanwhile, 85.4% (P772.4 million out of P904.9 million) of the funds for needy families who are not part of the 4Ps programs were given to beneficiaries.

Challenges in distributing aid to remote islands, conflict-ridden areas. BARMM spokesman and Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo attributed the delay in reaching the May 15 target to logistical problems arising from the remoteness of some areas and the ongoing conflicts there.

This was compounded by the fact that coronavirus funds was transferred to BARMM later than other administrative regions, said Sinarimbo.

BARMM's geography, composed of 3 island provinces any many isolated towns, posed a challenge to social workers who often had to bring bags of cash to the areas because many 4Ps beneficiaries did not hold cash cards.

"Many of the 4Ps beneficiaries are without cash cards and therefore the cash will have to be physically brought to them house to house in remote areas to avoid congregating large numbers of people during pay-outs," Sinarimbo told Rappler.

Most 4Ps cash card-holders are in Basilan, Social Services and Development Minister Raissa Jajurie told Rappler.

Cash still had to be brought physically even to card-holding 4Ps beneficiaries because banks in their areas lacked money.

"There are just two banks in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu provinces. On many instances, the cash available in these banks were insufficient and so we still have to ask the Wesmincom (Western Mindanao Command) to physically transport cash from Zamboanga to these island provinces since there are no public transport available," added the minister.

Social services ministry workers braved security risks in places like Patikul in Sulu where there is still heavy fighting between members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the military.

Coronavirus in BARMM. There are 11 confirmed coronavirus cases in BARMM with its population of over 5 million. Out of the 11, 4 died. Meanwhile, the region has 285 suspected coronavirus cases.

To handle BARMM cases, the government began the construction of a 100-bed facility near the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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