By Franz L Embudo/Manila Times
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it would distribute cash aid to millions of poor Filipino families under the government’s social amelioration programme.
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said P5,000 to P8,000 in cash would be doled out on top of food packs and other assistance per family for two months.
He noted that the amount of aid to be given would be based on the minimum wage level in each region.
He also clarified that the amount of the foods packs worth P1,500 per household would not be subtracted from the cash grant.
“We will still distribute family food packs but the cash aid that they will receive can be used for other necessities,” he said.
At least P200bn from the P275bn supplemental budget was allocated by the government to help the country’s
18mn poor families.
The DSWD said the cash grant could be processed within three days, but “validation” would take time.
Target beneficiaries are formal economy, subcontracted and home workers, as well as drivers, transportation networks, microentrepreneurs, subminimum-wage earners, stranded workers and others belonging to households from the vulnerable sectors.
On Monday, the DSWD started to download the social amelioration card to local government units that will distribute the cards to the intended beneficiaries. On Thursday, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief Lt Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police would help the DSWD distribute the cash aid to beneficiaries.
Eleazar, the Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield commander, said all unit commanders and chiefs were directed to start co-ordinating with the local DSWD offices.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa instructed the mobilisation of all police forces across the country for this effort, Eleazar said.
“We appeal to the public to remain in their houses and observe patience while waiting for the distribution of the cash assistance to help them cope with the adverse effects brought by this pandemic,” he said in a statement.
In a related development, Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go has described as “utterly false, deliberate disinformation and black propaganda” claims that he is involved in the handling of donations for the government’s coronavirus response.
Go said his office was only helping connect donors to intended beneficiaries such as hospitals and health workers.
Reports had circulated that Go was using Malasakit Centers in routing donations to hospitals and health workers. “First of all, Malasakit Centers are simply intended as one-stop shops for poor and indigent patients where relevant government agencies with medical and financial assistance programmes are gathered under one roof,” he said.
“There are no personal protective equipment being brought to or being donated to Malasakit Centers. These centres have no funds. They are just referral centres inside hospitals where the Philippine Health Insurance Corp, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office representatives are there to pay the hospital bills of penniless patients,” he said.
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