After almost a month-and-a-half of delay, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Thursday, June 11, that it has begun the distribution of the second tranche of cash aid for the emergency subsidy program (ESP), starting with the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said the payments have been credited to 1.3 million 4Ps cash card holders on Wednesday.
Bautista said they expect that the distribution for the rest of the second tranche beneficiaries would begin next week in areas that have submitted liquidation reports which have been validated by the DSWD.
Based on Joint Memorandum Circular 2, these areas, which were under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in May, are included in the second tranche:
In these areas, the families who were included in the first tranche would receive the second tranche. These amount to 8.5 million families, according to the DSWD.
On top of the 8.5 million, the government earlier announced that the 5 million families nationwide, who were left out of the first tranche, would receive cash aid. The DSWD said 3.5 million of these would come from the ECQ areas listed above, while 1.5 million will be families under general community quarantine (GCQ) who were deemed eligible by the agency.
The 3.5 million ECQ families will receive two waves of aid, while the 1.5 million GCQ families would receive only one subsidy.
All in all, 13.5 million poor and vulnerable families will receive the second tranche.
While the agency has P96 billion to shell out for the second tranche, Bautista revealed that it actually needs P110.6 billion to serve the chosen beneficiaries.
While the department has released P99.8 billion to 17.6 million families as of June 3, the DSWD said 83 local governments still have not completed payouts for the first tranche of cash aid, which was meant for the month of April. (TRACKER: DSWD assistance during coronavirus crisis)
Bautista promised on May 12 that the second tranche would be done faster. He made the same promise again during Thursday's briefing, though now more confident with the agency's new online platform.
"Inaasahan din natin na sa pamamagitan ng ReliefAgad app, mas magiging maayos at mabilis ang pamamahagi ng [ayuda] dahil ito ay may interface sa iba't ibang digital platforms," he said.
(With the ReliefAgad app, we expect that the distribution of cash aid will be faster and more efficient because it has an interface with various digital platforms.)
The agency acknowledged that automated payments cannot be done for families without smartphones or those with no access to technology, so manual distribution will still continue for these cases. The military and police will also help in distribution for remote and conflict-prone areas.
The DSWD maintains the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act is effective until June 25, but will proceed with giving the second tranche to 13.5 million beneficiaries despite the law saying 18 million poor families will receive two waves of cash aid.
Dozens of problems have emerged in the implementation of the emergency subsidy program. These include local officials being charged for allegedly committing anomalies in the distribution, and many poor families still being excluded from the program. (READ: Forgotten priority: PWDs still waiting for cash aid from Duterte gov't)
Filipinos are seen still appealing to be part of the program in DSWD's social media posts. – Rappler.com