ARTA sets scheme to speed up cash aid

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    BELGICA

    Local government units (LGUs) will be held accountable for failing to immediately release cash and food assistance to their communities in times of emergency and disaster.

    Jeremiah Belgica, director-general of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), in a statement said he has recommended to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that LGU officials should be able to deploy assistance within two days of the disaster.

    Belgica said LGU officials found to implement quick response will be subject to investigation.

    “There will be a presumption of serious neglect of duty and grave misconduct which are both serious offenses for administrative cases to be filed with the Office of Ombudsman and which would merit immediate preventive suspension,” he said.

    According to Belgica, DSWD regional or field offices, being at ground zero of the disaster-stricken area, should monitor if sufficient food and cash assistance have been distributed by the local government officials concerned when disaster strikes. If none has been extended by the LGU officials within two days, the DSWD regional or field office shall automatically send a report to the central office to send food and cash assistance to the disaster-hit area.

    Belgica made these recommendations in an initial meeting with officials of DILG and the DSWD following the directive of President Duterte to expedite the process of granting assistance after consecutive weather disturbances affected various areas in the country on top of the ongoing pandemic.

    The DSWD, however, only deploys relief operations upon receipt from the local chief executive of a request for augmentation and if the affected families are more than 30.