CABINET Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday told members of the middle-income class and workers who continue to receive their salaries while the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is in effect not to avail themselves of the P200-billion government subsidy approved by Congress.
Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the P5,000 to P8,000 to be given for two months under Social Amelioration Program (SAP) is intended for low-income families and the vulnerable sector who are the most adversely affected by the ECQ.
Stressing that there should be no room for greed amid the health crisis, Nograles said: “Mahiya naman tayo doon sa ibang mga nangangailangan, eh ang daming nangangailangan. Ito, tulong ito ng gobyerno para makakain ang bawat household at sharing na lang, sharing-sharing na lang tayo per household para mas marami ang matutulungan. Kasi kung susuwapangin natin eh, paano iyong ibang mga kapitbahay nating nangangailangan?” (We should be ashamed, to those who are in need. This assistance from the government is to ensure that every household gets to eat. Let’s just share so many households can be helped. If you will be greedy, what will happen to your neighbors who are really in need?)
He added: “Kung may kaya ka naman, huwag ka nang ano, huwag ka nang pumasok diyan, hayaan mo na lang sa mas nangangailangan. Parang voluntary basis na lang na kung ikaw, may kaya ka naman, o kaya naming abutin iyong hanggang sa dulo ng enhanced community quarantine eh, i-ano mo na lang iyon, sacrifice mo na lang iyon para sa ibang mga kapitbahay mo na mas nangangailangan (If you are well to do, do not join this and leave it to those who are most in need. If you are well to do and you can survive until the end of the enhanced community quarantine, just sacrifice and leave it for your needy neighbors.)
Nograles said employees from the formal sector can seek financial aid through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which gives P5,000 assistance to each qualified employee.
Nograles said SAP qualified beneficiaries include senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, indigents, indigenous people, underprivileged sectors and homeless citizens, public transportation, drivers, informal economy workers whether directly hired, occasional worker, or sub-contracted workers, home workers, house helpers, operators of sari-sari store and the like, family enterprise owners, those operating or managing small businesses like retail food production, vending, eateries, fruit, vegetable, and other street vendors, sub-minimum wage earners, and employees affected by ‘no work, no pay’ policy.
Nograles clarified the subsidy will be given per low-income household regardless if the household has several qualified individuals.
Vice President Leni Robredo expressed doubts that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) can quickly distribute the cash aid to poor families without the help of local government units (LGUs) which she said should be empowered by the national government.
“Duda ako na magagawa nila nang mabilisan, kasi anything na masyadong centralized, mahirap talaga iyong speed ng paggawa. Ako, paniniwala ko, dapat sana LGU iyong gumagawa nito. (I doubt that the DSWD can do this quickly because anything it’s difficult to act fast if everything is centralized. I believe this job is for the LGUs),” she said.
While Robredo recognized the President’s reason for setting aside the LGUs in the distribution of cash which is to ensure that there will be no graft and corruption, she said safeguards can still be put in place.
“Maglagay ng maraming, parang, safety nets para hindi… para naiiwasan iyong kinatatakutan na korapsyon. Pero kung dahil sa takot sa korapsyon, hindi ito makarating on time sa mga taong pag-uukulan, tingin ko iyon iyong bigger problem (Just place many safety nets to avoid corruption, but if because of it the money will not reach the beneficiaries on time, I think that will be the bigger problem),” she said.
Senators agreed that LGUs must be given a role in identifying the beneficiaries of the SAP for a smoother distribution of the cash assistance.
“LGUs must be made to submit the data, subject to vetting by the national agencies which was followed in our crafting of the Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program. Unfortunately, and this is a recurring mistake, what they are implementing now is a top down mode of listing and distribution instead of a bottom up approach, hence an obvious disconnect between needs and priorities of the rightful recipients,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Senate accounts committee chairman.
Lacson said local government officials have a better grasp of their constituents’ needs since they periodically conduct community-based surveys. He added that the data to be provided by the LGUs will determine the exact number of residents who will benefit from the cash assistance.
“Unless immediate adjustments are made by the DSWD and other support agencies, I’m afraid the very purpose of the social amelioration program and the disbursement of the P200B will not be accomplished,” Lacson said.
“Worse, and I sincerely hope not, a potential social problem might occur due to loss of income brought about by a prolonged business inactivity and work stoppage affecting a large segment of our labor force particularly the daily wage earners. We should all learn from Albert Einstein when he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results,” he added.
Elections spokesman James Jimenez scored local government officials for reportedly using voter’s IDs as a requirement for residents to receive the government subsidy.
Jimenez said there is nothing in the law that makes voter’s ID a prerequisite in getting government subsidy, especially in times of crisis. “Being a registered voter is not – repeat, NOT – a prerequisite to receiving gov’t relief,” said Jimenez (@jabjimenez).
Jimenez was reacting to reports that there are some barangay officials that were asking for the voter’s IDs of residents before handing out government aid.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has denounced such actions by local officials. – with Wendell Vigilia, Raymond Africa and Gerard Naval