COVID-19 cash aid goes digital to accelerate distribution

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) — The government launched on Thursday an online cash relief system aimed at speeding up the distribution of financial aid amid the coronavirus crisis.

Officials from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) presented during a virtual press briefing the ReliefAgad mobile application, which can be accessed through the website

Low-income families from areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) are expected to receive ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 worth of assistance under the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program. The DSWD is awaiting an executive order before they can craft the final guidelines for the distribution of the subsidy.

The beneficiaries will be able to register using the ReliefAgad app, where they will be asked to choose a mode of payment -- cash, PayMaya, GCash, or through their bank accounts -- and put the necessary details.

Measures are in place to ensure data privacy and protection, the officials stressed.

Meanwhile, those who do not have mobile phones or access to Internet can go to their respective local government units for manual encoding. DICT Asec. Emmanuel Rey Caintic said the agency has trained personnel to encode beneficiaries' data.

Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said the department will ask all concerned LGUs to use the ReliefAgad app.

"Kung ano man po ang teknolohiya na pwede nating magamit upang mafacilitate, at mas mapabilis, mas gawing less complicated ang pamimigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayan ay 100 percent pong sinusuportahan ng ating kagawaran," Malaya said.

[Translation: The department has its 100 percent support for whatever technology we can use to facilitate, fast track, and make the distribution of subsidy less complicated.]

Malacañang also welcomed the innovation. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated in another online briefing that due to limited funds, only areas under ECQ will receive additional subsidy.

The distribution of the first tranche of cash aid was marked with delays and corruption allegations. The DILG issued a show cause order against 43 mayors for failing to complete the rollout of the SAP despite two extensions, while at least three barangay officials in Bulacan province are facing graft charges.