LOCAL government units down to the barangays have been mandated to undertake the huge task of distributing quarantine passes, cash assistance and supplies to constituents.
How to go about it is a major, if not the biggest, immediate concern of government. But once a system has been decided and set up, the next challenges would be easier to handle because there will be rules to guide their actions.
The lack of direction and system, however, is what is happening in some barangays. Constituents are left confused as to where and how to access accreditation and aid. With the confusion, is anger directed at the government for being ill-prepared with the safety nets.
Take the enhanced community quarantine passes to be distributed at the barangay level. The plan is to distribute house-to-house with barangay and police personnel having two to three days to do it before the April 1 start of strict implementation. There are houses that cannot be easily reached or a house with several households, so distribution would take longer.
There is also the financial assistance for senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs), and the cash aid and goods meant for those affected by the enhanced quarantine.
A Cebu City official announced last week that, with regard to the aid to seniors, the beneficiaries might be gathered in smaller groups at a barangay gym where the distribution can take place. That would be problematic because the quarantine order requires that those aged 65 and above should never leave their homes, and seniors are among those at high risk for infection. The only viable option would be, again, house-to-house distribution.
As to PWDs, with public transportation shut down, many of them would not be able to reach distribution centers.
The same goes with the emergency subsidy to low-income households affected by the quarantine. The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act grants President Rodrigo Duterte special powers, including the giving of P5,000 to P8,000 monthly emergency subsidy to 18 million low-income households throughout the country for up to two months. The amount for affected Cebu City households is still to be determined as the law says this would depend on the prevailing minimum wage in the region.
Cebu’s local government units have to agree on one distribution mode and that is to go to every household. This is a gigantic challenge but examples of successful aid distribution in these times of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) show it is the only option.
Gathering recipients would be risky because the overcrowding may expose to the virus not only the beneficiaries but also those doing the distribution.
The distribution by house ensures that residents abide by the stay-at-home order, giving them no reason to go out to get the assistance.
Cebu leaders have to agree on this and only this mode of distribution to avoid confusion, prevent exposure to the virus and for the sake of efficiency.