Scheme to speed up cash aid grant proposed

AS confusion as to who will be qualified to receive the social amelioration benefits of P5,000 to P8,000 per family, House Deputy Speaker and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate on Monday proposed "to identify first those who are exempted from the package as they are certainly fewer and therefore easier to count."

"This will certainly fast-track the process and our already severely affected, even hungry people, will no longer wait for long," said Zarate.

"Assuming there are currently 20 million families (108 million population) nationwide and P200 billion is intended for 18 million families for two months (or P 100 billion per month) and P5,000 to P8,000 assistance per family per month is to be given. Then, 18 million families represent 90% of the total families nationwide (or 90% of the whole population) are the target recipients," said Zarate, citing a study made by Bayan Muna staff.

Based on practice, 4Ps beneficiaries only comprises 10% of total families or 2 million families (poorest of the poor) while the supposed assistance during the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, targeted 10 million families or 50%.

The current assistance to families affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) aims to distribute to a much larger number.

"Our suggestion from Bayan Muna, instead of identifying the 18M families eligible, might as well, reverse the process. Government should identify the houses of those two million families belonging to the rich and the richest of the rich, that are not eligible for the assistance. This will practically result on almost all families/all houses on almost all communities to be eligible to the social assistance," said Zarate.

"As it is, the ongoing process of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGUs), entails a very complicated bureaucratic red tape. This will result to much delay in the release of this much needed assistance to hungry Filipinos. Up till now they are still on the process of identifying the ‘POOR’ families, eligible for the P5,000 to P8,000 aid," said the Davao-based solon.

Based on IBON research, Zarate said the socio-economic aid is coming down in trickles if at all to the most vulnerable Filipino families.

According to the report, Zarate said the group noted that of the 18 million households that government acknowledged as needing assistance: only 0.04% (6,314 beneficiaries) received cash, food, and non-food aid from the DSWD, while only 1.1% received 194,467 food packs prepared for maybe two to three days. There was also no mention of emergency support for the 5.6 million senior citizens nationwide.

"Government should also release the total cash aid house to house. This is the fastest way that the cash reaches the pockets of the people because the longer they stay on the coffers of officials, the more prone it is to corruption," he added.

"Never mind, if 4Ps beneficiaries will have duplicate assistance, anyway they deserve more help than those with regular jobs. Ngayon lang naman ito mangyayari sa buhay nila. Ang hirap sa gobyerno, may budget na, gusto pang tipirin ang tulong sa mga tao. Remember the earlier pronouncement of DSWD spokesperson, that they intend to deduct from the 5k-8k assistance, the total cost of food packs + 4Ps assistance/CCT. If a 4Ps beneficiary receives P3k and the total amount of food packs is P2,500, wala na siyang matatanggap na SAC, may utang pa sila sa gobyerno. Panahon na para unahin ng gobyerno ang kapanan ng mahihirap at hindi yung sila pa nag nagpapahirap," said Zarate.