Gov’t asked to fast-track cash aid for poor

A House leader on Thursday urged the implementing agencies to fast track the distribution of financial aid to the poor who are affected the most by the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Based on the agencies’ accomplishment reports submitted to Malacañang last week, Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said the downloading of the P5,000 to P8,000 in cash assistance to intended beneficiaries “still has a long way to go.”

“With only one week to go before the enhanced community quarantine is lifted, extended or modified, we have to speed up the process so that the aid reaches poor households and workers,” Defensor, the chairman of the House committee on public accounts, lamented.

The principal implementing agencies are the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the case of 18 million target households, Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) in the case of displaced domestic and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for aid to farmers.

These agencies are to distribute at least P200 billion this month and next month.

Based on DSWD’s April 18 report, Defensor said the agency’s target beneficiary-families totaled 18 million, of which only 4.1 million or roughly 23 percent had been served.

Of those served, Defensor said 3.7 million are covered by the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps and were therefore pre-identified, he said. They received P16.3 billion.

The other target beneficiaries, labeled as “non-4Ps” and numbering 13.6 million families, were to be identified by local government units (LGUs), which are yet to report on their distribution of financial aid, he said as the DSWD has transferred P73.8 billion to LGUs.

In the case of DoLE, Defensor said the department has helped 419,447 or 60.5 percent of its 693,644 target domestic employees and OFWs.

Defensor said DoLE is aiming to assist 135,720 displaced OFWs, but the application for financial assistance of only 2,345 workers had been approved, though a total of 80,054 had been filed.

He said the DA has P3 billion for 591,246 target beneficiaries, of whom only 52,043 or 8.8 percent have been assisted.

“This means that our cash aid distribution performance ranged from a low of 8.8 percent to a high of 60.5 percent, excluding those served by LGUs. Clearly, there is enough room for improving the delivery of assistance to the poor,” Defensor stressed.