emergency subsidy program in PH

DSWD targets to complete 2nd tranche of COVID-19 cash aid by July 31

Bonz Magsambol
DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao says for those areas with no internet access, conflict-affected areas, and geographically isolated areas, the payouts will be completed by August 15

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is targeting to complete by July 31 the distribution of the second tranche of its emergency subsidy program (ESP) through manual and digital payouts.

DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao made the announcement during a virtual press briefing on Thursday, July 16.

“Pinagsisisikipan ng DSWD na maipahatid ang ikalawang bahagi ng SAP [social amelioration program]. Inaasahan namin na matatapos ang pamamahagi ng ayuda sa pamamagitan ng digital at manual payout sa mga kuwalapikadong benipisiyaryo sa July 31,” Dumlao said. 

(The DSWD is doing its best to distribute the second tranche of SAP. We hope to complete the distribution through digital and manual payouts to qualified benefiacries by July 31.)

Dumlao, however, explained that for no-internet, conflict-affected, and geographically isolated areas, the distribution will be completed by August 15.

During Thursday’s briefing, Dumlao said that more than P19 billion had been distributed to more than 3.2 million beneficiaries through manual and digital payouts as of July 15. 

They represented 26% of the 12 million target beneficiaries. 

On April 28, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista announced that the agency had partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology to facilitate the automated distribution of the second tranche. 

In line with the promise to make the distribution of the May aid faster and more efficient, the DSWD launched the app “ReliefAgad” to allow families with cash cards to register online.

Instead of transferring cash to local government units, which caused alleged anomalies, the agency’s funds would go straight to the Land Bank of the Philippines, to be disbursed by partner financial service providers like GCash and PayMaya.

After almost a month and a half of delay, the DSWD began distributing the second tranche of cash aid, starting with the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), on June 11. (READ: 3 months after lockdown, poor Filipinos still hungry waiting for cash aid)

Factors causing delay

During the House hearing on DSWD’s government subsidy program on Thursday afternoon, Undersecretary Danilo Pomanag cited 3 factors causing the delay in the distribution of the payouts:

  • Mobility constraints in reaching far-flung areas
  • Difficulty in delivering subsidy to conflict-affected areas
  • DSWD personnel are still at risk of being infected, and may infect their clients with the virus

To reach these areas, Pomanag said the DSWD was coordinating with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines 

Dumlao said that, after a post-payout validation by their field offices, they found that 81,484 beneficiaries received cash assistance more than once, while 52,429 unqualified families also got aid. There were 10,862 families who voluntarily returned the assistance they got. 

The government’s ESP was created under the now-expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which promised cash aid of P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million poor families a month for two months. The government had P200 billion to spend for it. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.