SARI-SARI store owners in the region whose incomes have been affected by the price cap imposed on two varieties of rice will get their cash assistance of P15,000 from the government on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.
However, Emma Patalinghug, chief of the promotive services division of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7, said they are still waiting for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 to provide them with the list of beneficiaries.
The social worker said the aid from the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program-Economic Relief Subsidy (SLP-ERS) aims to address challenges caused by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Executive Order 39, which sets price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 per kilo.
She said the DTI 7 has also yet to release the guidelines outlining the eligibility criteria.
Based on previous reports, the financial assistance will be exclusively available to sari-sari store owners who comply with the price cap for rice and maintain valid registrations with their respective local government unit’s business permit and licensing office.
She said the DSWD 7 intends to expedite the distribution of cash funds before the end of the month, but this will depend on when the DTI 7 will give them the list of beneficiaries.
She said the DTI is in charge of monitoring prices and profiling potential beneficiaries.
In the initial disbursement of cash assistance, qualified small-scale retailers across the region received their aid simultaneously on Sept. 14, and on Sept. 22.
Qualified sari-sari stores
DTI 7 Director Maria Elena Arbon, in a text message on Tuesday, Sept. 26, said they are finalizing the list of beneficiaries. Once this is done, she said they will submit it to the DSWD 7 for the final vetting process.
Based on the data the DTI 7 provided to SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, Sept. 27, more than 1,000 sari-sari store owners in Cebu have been identified as qualified to receive payouts on Friday.
Of this number, 36 are from Alcantara, three from Argao, 341 from Balamban, 148 from Carcar City, two from Catmon, eight from the City of Naga, 10 from Cordova, 99 from Daanbantayan, eight from Danao City, 30 from Malabuyoc, 159 from Mandaue City, 30 from Moalboal, 22 from Minglanilla, 45 from Oslob, 112 from Pinamungajan, 42 from Talisay City and three from Toledo City
The agency has yet to reveal the distribution locations for Friday, or finalize the list of beneficiaries in other provinces in Central Visayas.
Meanwhile, Patalinghug said that only 310 of the 325 identified beneficiaries had claimed their cash assistance during the first and second payouts in which the DSWD 7 disbursed P4,650,000 in cash.
She said the 15 small-scale rice retailers who did not claim their subsidies had until Wednesday, Sept. 27, to collect their cash grants at DSWD offices in Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
She said any unclaimed money would be returned to the national treasury.
She also said that to maintain fairness and to prevent the politicization of the cash distribution, especially with the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on Oct. 30, representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government are present during the distribution.
Patalinghug said the Commission on Elections earlier exempted the subsidy for rice retailers from the election spending ban.