5 million more families 'waitlisted' for emergency subsidy program

Five million poor families who were excluded from the 18 million beneficiaries of the government's emergency subsidy program (ESP) are "waitlisted" to receive aid amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Thursday, May 7.

The included families are the ones who appealed with local social welfare offices and were found eligible for the program.

"Nabanggit ng DSWD na ang consolidated list ng eligible beneficiaries ay isusumite ng local social welfare offices sa DSWD field offices upang ma-validate at matiyak na ang mga pamilyang nakalista ay hindi existing beneficiaries ng iba pang programa ng pamahalaan. Sila ang eligible target beneficiaries na sa kasalukuyan ay waitlisted," said Social Welfare Undersecretary Rene Glen Paje.

(The DSWD has said that the local social welfare offices would submit the consolidated list of eligible beneficiaries to the DSWD field offices to validate if the families listed are not existing beneficiaries of other government aid programs. These are eligible target beneficiaries who are now currently waitlisted.)

The announcement was first made on Monday, May 4, when Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte that 5 million additional families be included in the ESP.

This means there are now 23 million families who would get P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid for either "the first or second tranche," Roque said.

"We promise you we have learned from the first experience of distributing the first tranche, and we will be more efficient in distributing the second tranche," said Roque on Tuesday, May 5.

Rappler sent a follow-up question asking if the additional 5 million families would also be receiving aid for a second wave like the rest of the 18 million, but the DSWD did not answer this in Thursday's press conference.

The government earlier announced that families in areas under general community quarantine would no longer be receiving cash aid for the month of May. The DSWD said it is still waiting for Malacañang to release guidelines on this shift in policy.

Distribution progress

Several local governments with dense populations were earlier given an extension by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to complete their April payouts until May 7. This was again extended to Sunday, May 10.

As of May 7, the DSWD said more than P75.2 billion has been released to 13.6 million beneficiaries of the ESP. (TRACKER: DSWD assistance during coronavirus crisis)

The DSWD has said that local government units (LGUs) cannot receive the cash for payouts for the month of May until they have submitted liquidation reports. DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said as of Thursday, 637 LGUs have completed payouts, while only 58 have submitted liquidation reports.

Malacañang announced last Monday that the government will give a P30,000 reward to Filipinos who will report local officials proven to be pocketing government cash aid.

Reports of problems in the implementation of the ESP have emerged. Local officials have struggled to cater to all of the families in need in their jurisdiction, while families face inconvenience and prolonged hunger as they await the promised aid. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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