THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Davao announced that beginning Friday, August 21, Social Amelioration Program (SAP) beneficiaries cannot claim their financial aid and other benefits from the agency's partner payment centers if it is not their schedule to claim it.

DSWD-Davao Assistant Director Merlinda Paragamac told SunStar Davao that they will be imposing this system to avoid long lines, which results in the non-observance of physical distancing and also to avoid inconvenience for the beneficiaries.

Paragamac said DSWD received reports that some SAP beneficiaries went to their respective payment centers despite not being on their schedule yet.

"Ang nahitabo is ang mga tao, bisan dili pa nila schedule, nangadto na sa mga branches. So karon, gi-advise namo ang branches nga mu-withdraw ra sila sa ilang gitakdang schedule kay nakadawat man na sila og text and naa na sila'y corresponding schedule (What happened was some beneficiaries went to some of our partner payment centers even if it wasn't their schedule to claim yet. We already advised our branches not to give out payments to beneficiaries who are not yet scheduled to receive their SAP. On the part of the beneficiaries, they already received a text message on when they can claim their cash grant)," Paragamac said in a phone interview with SunStar Davao Friday afternoon.

In a photo shared by Jocelyn Dulla to SunStar Davao, several SAP beneficiaries lined up as early as 1 a.m. in front of the City Triangle in Roxas Avenue, Davao City to claim their cash aid from the government.

According to her, these beneficiaries start queuing at dawn to ensure that their aid will be claimed on time based on their schedules.

Several media outlets and netizens had also posted similar situations to other remittance centers in the city.

Facebook user Juvs Basaca-Ladiao said some of them lined up early and are on their schedule. However, some centers have cut-offs, resulting in some beneficiaries not able to claim their SAP grants.

"Unta maam/sir ang remittance center walay cut-off kutob sa naka-sked karong adlawa, unta ila i-cater. Parehas anang naay cut-off, pagka-ugma nga lahi napud ang sked magpang-abot. Mao nang magdasok og wa nay distancing (I hope the remittance centers won't have a cut-off for those who are scheduled to claim on that day because if they do, the following day another scheduled claimants will also line up, resulting in a gathering of claimants from the previous day and the present day, thus social distancing won't be observed)," Basaca-Ladiao said.

Debbie Corcuera Guardiana Mahinay also appealed to DSWD to allow them to receive their aid. She said she started lining up as early as midnight and had to skip work just to receive her claim. But she did not make it to the cut-off.

Paragamac said they already talked to their partner centers to extend their service, since DSWD is also paying their services.

Meanwhile, she advised beneficiaries to look for other available branches since they can withdraw from other branches of the payment centers they are designated to claim for as long as they can present the reference number that was texted to them.

Another reason why some beneficiaries will not follow the schedule is some are worried that they may no longer be able to claim their SAP.

She said they are given within 15 days from their scheduled day to claim their subsidy.

DSWD started implementing the digital payment early August this year, where beneficiaries can claim their SAP aid from DSWD's 103 partner centers anywhere in the city.

Among the Financial Service Providers (FSP) tapped by the department are PayMaya, G-cash and Star Pay.

She said the agency resulted in digital paying due to their lack of manpower, and as health safety protocol for their employees and the beneficiaries, as the city is still under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

"Ang tumong nato is mapadali ug mapasayo [og hatag] sa atong mga beneficiary ilang cash aid. Tungod sa kadaghan, dili pud kaya sa personahe sa DSWD, luyo sa atong limited movement tungod sa pandemic, so mao na ngano naa tay ing-ana nga strategies (Our goal is to bring convenience, so that our beneficiaries can immediately receive their cash aid. Our personnel cannot accomodate the large number of beneficiaries, considering we also have a limited movement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of our strategies to address this problem)," Paragamac said.

DSWD-Davao City is currently conducting distribution of the second tranche of SAP, where qualified indigent beneficiaries can receive P6,000 to P8,000, depending on where the beneficiaries live and the quarantine category they are under.

A total of P1.7 billion is currently being disbursed for the second tranche to an estimated 298,000 beneficiaries, she said.

Some of the beneficiaries she added were under "waitlist" status during the first tranche, but were enlisted in the second tranche after qualifying to receive the government aid.

Paragamac said DSWD is still implementing the direct payout, where five percent from the beneficiaries will be personally receiving the SAP aid within the barangay of the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, she said beneficiaries are reminded to adhere to the minimum health protocols, such as wearing face masks and face shields and observing the two-meter physical distancing.

Paragamac also said they already coordinated with the Davao City Public Safety and Security Command Center prior to implementing the digital paying scheme.