Despite Duterte ‘order,’ Manila LGU leads pandemic aid distribution

Dwight de Leon
Despite Duterte ‘order,’ Manila LGU leads pandemic aid distribution

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Residents of Binondo, Manila queue to receive their supplemental aid from the national government on August 11, 2021.


Social workers serving the city government lead the cash aid distribution two days after President Duterte indicated that he had ordered the national government to do it instead

The Manila city government led the distribution of pandemic financial assistance on Wednesday, August 11, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte indicated that he would not allow the local government unit to do so.

Responding to Rappler’s query, the Manila Public Information Office said the power of the local government unit (LGU) to distribute funds to constituents was not taken away.

“Social workers and daycare workers of the [Manila Department of Social Welfare] are distributing the funds now,” Manila PIO chief Julius Leonen said in a mix of English and Filipino. The city government has direct supervision of the MDSW.

Mayor Isko Moreno made a similar announcement on Tuesday night, August 10.

The development came after Duterte said an LGU should be prohibited from distributing aid from the national government supposedly because of its failure to prevent chaotic crowds in the past.

Duterte did not name Manila, but his tirades against Moreno were very specific, especially because the Philippine capital grappled with disorderly vaccinations in early August.

“Tinanggal ko muna ‘yan sa kanila at binigay ko doon sa Department of [the] Interior and Local Government, pati ang [Department of Social Welfare and Development]. Kayo na muna hanggang matuto sila,” the President had said on Monday, August 9.

(I temporarily took [that power] away from them and I gave it to the DILG and DSWD. You do it for now until they learn.)

Duterte’s supposed order on Monday was not exactly the situation on the ground on Wednesday, although the DILG deployed additional cops and social distancing patrollers to ensure a systematic cash aid distribution process.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, as quoted in a DILG press release on Wednesday morning, said that “additional personnel from the DSWD and the DILG have been deployed in all distribution sites in the City of Manila to supervise the payout of the Manila Social Welfare Department.”

Malaya and DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista also visited the first day of cash aid distribution in the capital. Moreno did not join them because he had a meeting in his office, the PIO told Rappler.

Rappler has reached out to Malaya, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, as to why DILG only added personnel to supervise aid distribution, instead of heeding Duterte’s supposed order. This article will be updated once they reply.

Politicians – including Vice President Leni Robredo – have come to Moreno’s defense following Duterte’s attacks. An analyst has also said that Duterte’s recent actions are an example of abuse of authority for political gain.

Malacañang itself had refused to name Moreno as the subject of Duterte’s recent outburst.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.