IATF warns families against cheating in govt's cash aid program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 6) — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has warned families against resorting to cheating to get ahead of other beneficiaries badly in need of the government's cash aid amid the Luzon-wide quarantine.

"It's a per family basis, hindi po iyan per member of the family (it's not per member of the family)," IATF Spokeseprson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual press conference on Monday. "Otherwise, magkukulang talaga at magkakadoble-doble (Otherwise, aid will not be sufficient and even be doubled.)."

Nograles stressed that those from the "poorest of the poor" or the low-income households should be prioritized in the provision of aid as the national government continues to grapple with the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.

He also warned local communities against being "selective" in screening potential beneficiaries.

"Kung may dayaan po tayong nakikita gaya niyan, isang bahay, tatlong social amelioration card or yung iba hindi pinayagan dahil hindi ninyo kaalyado, kung hindi kayo mahuhuli ngayon, mahuhuli rin kayo eventually," Nograles warned.

[Translation: If there are proven instances of cheating, for example, one household has three social amelioration cards or some others were not granted aid because of favored allies, you may not be arrested today, but you will be caught eventually.]

He added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police, and the National Task Force on COVID-19, are monitoring potential cases of corruption and other anomalies in the aid distribution.

"Kung hindi po namin kayo mahuhuli ngayon, mahuhuli rin kayo pagkatapos nito dahil lahat iyan ay i-o-audit (If we don't catch you know, you will eventually get caught when the quarantine ends because all the lists will be audited)," he added.

The DSWD has already received ₱100 billion for the emergency subsidy intended for the 18 million low-income households affected by the enhanced community quarantine, as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law.

Each accredited family will receive ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 a month for two months. The amount varies on the minimum wage per region and differs from the subsidy for those who are already receiving conditional cash transfer under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). A total of ₱16.3 billion subsidy has already been distributed so far to 3.6 million households, Nograles said.

The Department of Labor and Employment is also giving out monetary assistance of ₱5,000 for daily wage earners and informal workers under the lockdown.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson called on the concerned government agencies to act with urgency and iron out the kinks in the aid distribution.

"When the executive asked for authority to be granted to the President by way of legislation, they should have prepared as a matter of foresight," Lacson said. "They knew what they wanted but when we gave it to them in 18 hours of marathon session, apparently, they were not prepared to execute."

"The wide gap in the Department of Finance and the DSWD list and the locally generated data on the recipients of the ₱200 billion social amelioration fund is one of the issues that we expect to be resolved," Lacson added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to submit his second weekly report to Congress on the government's COVID-19 efforts as of Monday noon.