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Overcrowding in QC 'ayuda' distribution centers an 'isolated' case – DILG

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) downplayed fears that the distribution of ayuda or supplemental aid in many areas under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was disorganized.

The DILG was reacting to images on social media showing long lines in distribution centers in Quezon City on Wednesday, April 7, with queues extending past midnight.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya insisted it was an “isolated incident”.

Iyong nangyari sa Quezon City, late dumating ang paymaster ng LGU [local government unit] (In Quezon City, the paymaster came in late). We are now working with the LGU para hindi na maulit (won't happen again),” Malaya said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, April 8.

Malaya noted that in other cities, the distribution of cash aid on Wednesday and Thursday was smooth-sailing.

“I came from Valenzuela. Yesterday, I was in Caloocan and Paranaque. Maayos ang sistema ng pagbibigay ng ayuda doon. May scheduling sila na every hour, 50 to 100 lang ang pwede pumunta sa distribution center (They had a good system in distributing aid. They have a schedule where only 50 to 100 people can go to each distribution center per hour),” Malaya said.

He noted it was not a problem that qualified individuals were outside their homes past the 6 pm curfew in ECQ areas to get their financial assistance from the national government.

Dito naman sa Maynila, tuloy-tuloy lang ang kanilang pamimigay, at hindi sila nagpapaalis ng tao. Kahit abutan sila ng hatinggabi... which is fine with us, (In Manila, cash aid distribution continued even when it was already midnight. They don't turn away people),” he said.

Kailangan maipamudmod 'yan at maiparating sa tao the fastest way possible (We have to distribute the aid to the people the fastest way possible),” Malaya added.

Speeding up aid distribution

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte apologized for the overcrowding in distribution centers, and said she has talked with village officials to hasten the distribution of aid.

She added, however, that it was difficult for LGUs to distribute supplemental aid to all qualified low-income individuals in a short amount of time.

“The national government wants us to finish giving ayuda within 15 days, which in our estimate, is a little bit impossible, given that we have to give ayudas to 800,000 families,” Belmonte told ABS-CBN News Channel on April 8.

She also noted that the desperation of people to get financial aid may have led to some beneficiaries failing to follow the system.

“The fact that people are hungry, they're in need, they lost their jobs, and they're desperate. Given the situation, when they hear there's ayuda, many of them don't wait for the system to be implemented anymore, they just try their luck,” Belmonte said.

Is this a one-time aid?

Some 22.9 million low-income individuals are entitled to P1,000 worth of cash or in-kind assistance from the P22.9 billion in left over funds of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said on March 29 that only 80% of low-income individuals are covered by the supplemental aid for the first week of the ECQ, which took place from March 29 to April 4.

While the ECQ was extended for another week, Avisado said that there would only be a one-time cash assistance.

Economists have warned that meager cash aid to poor households may force people to leave their homes during the strict lockdown in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna, collectively known as “NCR Plus." – Rappler.com