DSWD to handle COVID-19 cash aid distribution, LGUs’ role limited

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 2) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development will take the lead in the distribution of cash aid to the most financially-hit households nationwide during the quarantine, a role previously held by local government units, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said Thursday.

“The DSWD will exercise full control and supervision over the distribution of the emergency subsidy program’s funds,” task force spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a televised briefing.

The emergency subsidy program is in line with the newly signed law, Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gives President Rodrigo Duterte new powers in handling the current health crisis, including realigning funds in the 2020 national budget.

This is “to ensure only the targeted beneficiaries will receive the government subsidies,” Nograles explained.

The official said the role of the LGUs will be limited to assisting in handing out the cash.

The LGUs were previously tasked to submit their databases of target beneficiaries to the national government as well as distribute “social amelioration cards” to those eligible to get subsidy.

Nograles also said the subsidy would be in the form of P5,000 to P8,000 in cash. Earlier this week, the government said the relief includes cash and food.

Families covered include the homeless, those with at least one member who is on a no-work-no pay situation, a senior citizen, a solo parent, a person with disability or a pregnant and lactating woman.

READ: LIST: Qualified beneficiaries of COVID-19 subsidy 

Duterte said Wednesday he transferred the task of distributing the aid to the national government because of politicians with a lot of complaints.

Tinanggal ko sa politiko kasi maraming reklamo,” Duterte said in a speech Wednesday.

[Translation: I gave the job to the national government because there are plenty of politicians with a lot of complaints.]

On March 21, the President ordered LGUs to “stand down and abide by the directives of the IATF and the Office of the President.”

This was shortly after Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto ordered the limited mobilization of tricycles in his city to help bring health workers and patients with urgent needs to hospitals. This is prohibited under the enhanced community quarantine guidelines, which include the suspension of mass transport. Sotto has since complied with the ban.

Duterte had earlier approved the recommendations of the IATF to restrict the movement of people, ordering most except for those rendering vital services to stay at home, in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. The quarantine is scheduled to last until April 13.