MANILA, Philippines – As Filipinos struggle to get by during the coronavirus lockdown, at least 195 local government units (LGUs) in the country still cannot access the emergency cash subsidy from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In its April 13 report to Congress, Malacañang said some 195 cities and municipalities still cannot access the funds because they are still "in the process of creating" a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DSWD to avail of the program.
The aid is under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which seeks to give P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million poor families in the country. (READ: What we know so far: Funding the fight vs the coronavirus)
Under the recently passed law, President Rodrigo Duterte is obligated to submit to Congress a weekly report on the executive branch's progress in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been nearly 3 weeks since the law was signed by the President.
The process: To access the emergency cash subsidy, LGUs must first submit a memorandum of agreement proposal to the DSWD containing a list of potential beneficiaries. The DSWD's field offices will then have to validate the list.
After vetting, the DSWD field offices will submit a new list to the LGUs which will be the basis for a new MOA proposal. Once an LGU's proposal is approved, the DSWD will transfer the funds to the LGU for distribution.
The progress: As of Monday, April 13, the Department of the Interior and Local Government recorded 664 LGUs that have submitted their MOAs to the DSWD. The report did not indicate how many LGUs have already had their lists vetted, and their aid received and distributed.
Malacañang did not attach a regional breakdown nor did it identify the LGUs in its report.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, the President has touted barangays and LGUs as the government's frontliners for social relief.
The administration's confusing guidelines on the implementation, however, have left some barangays confused and "helpless" in implementing the massive relief program.
As of Monday, the Philippines has 4,932 coronavirus cases, with 315 deaths and 242 recoveries. Worldwide, the deadly virus has infected over 1.8 million people and killed at least 114,000. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.