Bring gov’t aid house to house – Cayetano

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    SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano on Sunday proposed a house-to-house distribution of government aid to affected families under the newly signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (R.A. No. 11469) which is aimed at defeating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    Cayetano said the national government and local government units (LGUs) should adopt a house-to-house strategy, no-contact policy, and use of photo documentation in distributing cash assistance to 18 million poor families that will benefit from the P200-billion budget under the new law.

    “Let’s do it house to house to minimize the crowd. There should be little to no contact between the beneficiaries and relief workers, maximize the use of technology for documentation and record-keeping,” Cayetano said.

    “We must strike a crucial balance between delivering much needed aid, while making sure that we keep contact and the risk of contamination as close to zero as we can,” he added.

    Under the traditional set-up, organizers distribute tickets which the people present on the scheduled date of distribution to get their package. People regularly gather in a single venue to claim the cash or goods assistance.

    For documentation, the beneficiaries are required to sign a proof of acceptance of the cash or non-cash package.

    Cayetano, however, said  the traditional way of relief distribution is not feasible now given the risks of contamination.

    “Our objective in Congress is to help in the building of a delivery system that is fast, effective and complete with all the safeguards necessary for government to protect the People,” he said.

    Through the use of an infographic, the Speaker proposed to limit the number of distribution team to five: a local government representative either from the Social Welfare Department, Barangay Affairs office or Urban Poor Affairs office, barangay representative, representative from the Office of the Congressman/woman, urban poor neighborhood association/NGO/homeowners association leader and PNP or AFP as security.

    “A well-represented group five can address the issue of mistrust on the distribution of funds and can be an effective measure to promote transparency and accountability,” Cayetano said.

    The Speaker clarified that taking photos for documentation should be done to avoid the use of pen and paper and lessen person to person contact.

    Under the proposed set-up, the distribution team will wear protective gears such as goggles, protective gowns, and gloves; use alcohol and cell phone cameras; and will be provided with food and transportation to ensure a fast and efficient process of delivery.

    The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act mandates the expansion and enhancement of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as among the temporary emergency measures to be implemented to respond to the crisis brought about by the pandemic.

    The law also provides for the distribution of an emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income households between P5,000 and P8,000 a month for two (2) months, computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates.

    To effectively respond to the needs of the affected sectors, the Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall transfer cash or goods, whichever is practicable, through the LGUs or directly to the households who have no income or savings to draw from including households working in the informal economy and those who are not currently recipients of 4Ps during the period of the quarantine.

    Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, a principal author R.A. 11469, wants the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to scale up its case rate packages from the current P4,000 to P32,000 per beneficiary to a range of P150,000 to as much as P400,000 for each treated patient afflicted with Covid-19.

    Villafuerte suggested to PhilHealth to increase the amount of its rate package to between P300,00 and P400,000 for COVID-19 patients suffering from severe illness or in critical condition that require intubation and the use of ventilators.

    He said the rate package should be raised to P150,000 to P200,000 for patients with mild cases, as such persons are required to be hospitalized for two weeks for their complete recovery from this disease.

    Villafuerte proposed a tenfold increase in the case rate packages “to incentivize private and public hospitals to put up more facilities, even temporary ones within their respective premises, and then accommodate more patients who are either PUIs (persons under investigation) or PUMs (persons under monitoring).”

    Villafuerte made his proposal as five top hospitals in Metro Manila stopped accepting new suspected cases because their existing facilities could no longer accommodate additional patients for treatment.

    These five hospitals are St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) and De los Santos Medical Center, both in Quezon City; SLMC Global City in Taguig City; The Medical City (TMC) in Pasig City; and Makati Medical Center (MMC) in Makati City.