MABALACAT City Mayor Cris Garbo said the Department of Social Services (DSWD) plans to buy relief goods from the P6,500 Social Amelioration Program benefits for each qualified family in his city instead of giving out outright cash.
In a telephone interview, Garbo also said that out of the 52,000 beneficiaries he listed as local beneficiaries, the DSWD has opted to include only 30,400 of them in the program.
He said he got this information from his city social workers who were briefed by DSWD on the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program in this city.
“We also were informed that the benefits in cash and kind would come in two tranches for two successive months for the same beneficiaries, but local officials have appealed that the second tranche be given to another set of families to spread out the assistance under the program,” he said.
Asked to clarify whether the P6,500 in cash and relief goods would be divided in the two tranches, Garbo said it was clear that the plan of the DSWD was to distribute P6,500 in cash and kind for each tranche, or a total of P13,000 in two months for the same beneficiary.
Such proposal, he said, would cover all 52,000 households he initially listed as qualified beneficiaries in Mabalacat.
Only last Saturday, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, led by Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, wrote Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, chair of the National Task Force Covid 19, complaining that “the guidelines being dissminated by the national government (regarding Social Amelioration Program) is not what’s being implemented at the LGU level.”
“This discrepancy has been causing confusion and dissatisfaction with our constituents to the point where they are led to the conclusion that their local executive from the municipal to the barangay levels are trivializing the distribution of the cash benefit,” the letter said.
Singson said “it is for this reason that the LMP humbly appeals for the IATF’s consideration to issue a public statement through a televised press conference to clearly define the targeted beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program.”
Last week, the President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11469, or the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” that enabled him to launch the program that entitles qualified beneficiaries to receive P5,000 to P8,000 as financial assistance amid the Covid-19 lockdown to benefit an estimated 18 million households.
The supposed beneficiaries include senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, solo parents, indigenous people, homeless citizens, farmers, fishermen, self-employed, informal settlers, employees affected by the “no work, no pay” policy such as PUV drivers, house helpers, construction workers among others.
In a press statement, the DSWD said 4Ps household beneficiaries will get P3,650 to P6,650 per month for two months. The amount to be received will depend on the prescribed emergency subsidy per region determined from the particular region’s minimum wage levels.
PPP recipients will still get their regular cash dole-outs and rice allowance on top of the COVID-19 situation assistance.
According to the DSWD, program beneficiaries with Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) cash cards may withdraw their allowances from any Land Bank of the Philippines Automated Teller Machines (LBP-ATMs), or any ATM subject to minimal charges.
“They may also use their cash cards to purchase necessary items at establishments with point-of-sale (POS) terminals,” the DSWD said.
Meanwhile, for 4Ps beneficiaries who have yet to receive their cash cards, the city/municipal links will coordinate with them for the distribution of their grants.
Earlier, DSWD declared “force majeure” for the 4Ps program covering February and March, which suspends the monitoring of compliance that serves as the basis for the computation of cash grants.
This was later extended to cover the months of April and May.
The DSWD has already coordinated with local government units (LGUs) and city/municipal links to ensure that proper arrangements will be made and that social distancing and other health safety protocols will be strictly observed during the withdrawal of emergency cash assistance. (Ding Cervantes/SunStar Pampanga)