Bacolod suspends cash aid distribution

THE Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) in Bacolod City is now reassessing the whole program and evaluating strategies to safely and efficiently distribute the assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), but in the meantime, the program is being suspended indefinitely.

This was stressed by Pacita Tero, head of DSSD, yesterday after hundreds of Bacolodnons flocked at the Bacolod Government Center (BGC) on Saturday to avail the financial aid from the DSWD as the city has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Pacita said it was an unexpected situation on Saturday at the BGC.

She said that early last week, the DSWD tasked them to identify, interview, and distribute additional financial aid to the most affected sectors during this coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.

“The procedure to process this financial assistance was made to accommodate only those who were already pre-identified for interview. We had begun interviewing since last September 19 and have been targeting a quota of around 100 people per day. With this going on for nearly a week now, the number that turned out Saturday morning came as a complete shock to us,” she added.

Tero said people had begun to cut in line, putting those who came earlier including seniors, in an uncomfortable and unsafe situation.

She said the crowd was so big in magnitude that they saw it was no longer manageable or feasible to continue their usual distribution so the police officers on duty immediately instructed everyone to vacate the area.

“We have heard reports of people who had intentionally or unintentionally spread misinformation that gave false hope to those who came hoping to be selected. May we appeal to the public in this age of fake news. Let us only get our information from official sources,” she added.

Pacita stressed that in the light of this experience, they are now reassessing the whole program and evaluating strategies to safely and efficiently distribute the assistance.

“In the meantime, we wish to announce that the program is being suspended indefinitely. We hope for your understanding,” she said.

Bacolod City availed the additional financial aid after Congressman Greg Gasataya earlier asked DSWD Secretary Rolando to provide more financial assistance to the city as the city has been placed under MECQ.

In his letter dated September 24 and addressed to Gasataya, Baustista said the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) entitles eligible beneficiaries to receive financial assistance subsidy as mandated by the already-lapsed Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. As of September 2, the DSWD has already served around 97 percent of the identified beneficiaries from the local government units.

He said based on Bayanihan Act II, an allocation amounting to P6 billion was designated to DSWD for the implementation of its programs to help those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added the DSWD recognizes the community quarantine classification of Bacolod City and that the needs of the people will be considered for assessment and validation to determine their qualifications in receiving the emergency subsidy.


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