‘The huge task of distributing such a big amount to the beneficiaries would have been made easy and seamless if the government just implemented the National Identification Card Law which was passed more than two years ago.’
THE first law on social amelioration in the wake of the Luzon-wide lockdown that saw ordinary Filipinos confined to their homes, without the opportunity to go out of their barangays to buy food or medicines except one member of a household, or much more to work, was called the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act No. 11469.
It necessitated the distribution of cash subsidies to the poorest of the poor (in theory) but those who received were not exclusively in this category, considering that the mayors and councilors, along with the barangays, implemented the distribution with the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The first tranche of the Social Amelioration Program given out by the DSWD and local government units was initially only for 18 million indigent families, but later President Duterte increased this to 23 million. For these beneficiaries, the DSWD has released more than P92 billion.
To cushion the negative impact on government finances, the Duterte administration divided the dole-outs into two — the first and second tranches. It is in the second tranche that families who had been categorized as wait-listed” by local officials, totaling 5 million, were included.
The DSWD reported that it has served over 12.51 million family-beneficiaries, using the manual and digital payouts system under the second tranche of the SAP. The DSWD said it has distributed P74.5 billion worth of cash subsidies to around 12,517,388 SAP 2 beneficiaries, as of 8 p.m., August 14. The number of served beneficiaries is 88.7 percent of the agency’s targeted 14.1 million recipients for the second phase implementation of the Social Amelioration Program. The 11 areas covered by SAP 2 are Region III (Central Luzon) except Aurora province, the NCR, Region IV-A (Calabarzon), Benguet, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Cebu province, Bacolod City, Davao City, Albay, and Zamboanga City.
It is little known to many but DSWD personnel have suffered 160 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one death and 57 recoveries because they tried hard to reach the poor in their homes and communities, unmindful of the risk to their health. They are also genuine frontliners we seldom think about. Despite the risks, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the department assures the public that the second tranche distribution of SAP and the implementation of its regular pro-poor programs will remain unhampered.
What is noticeable is that the DSWD and local officials encountered a lot of problems during the distribution of the first tranche, while they finished the second tranche without much noise, complaints or problems. They have been made more efficient by experience.
The huge task of distributing such a big amount to the beneficiaries would have been made easy and seamless if the government just implemented the National Identification Card Law which was passed more than two years ago.