Govt. eyes to finish cash aid delivery by June 23

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 16) — The government eyes completing the distribution of cash assistance to the beneficiaries of the social amelioration program by June 23, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Tuesday.

The distribution began in Benguet province on Tuesday, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told a Laging Handa briefing.

Sunod-sunod na po ito hanggang sa (This will go on until) June 23,” Malaya added.

In a separate briefing, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rolando Bautista said nearly 500 waitlisted beneficiaries have received their cash aid.

"Ang unang payout ay sinagawa sa Cordillera Administrative Region kung saan 266 na pamilya mula sa Kapangan, Benguet at 290 na pamilya mula sa Baguio City ang nakatanggap ng kanilang ₱5,500 na ayuda," Bautista said Tuesday.

[Translation: We did the first payout in the Cordillera Administrative Region, where 266 families from Kapangan, Benguet and 290 families from Baguio City received their ₱5,500 cash aid.]

The government will tap an online cash system called ReliefAgad for beneficiaries who wish to have their subsidy transferred to their bank accounts, PayMaya or GCash accounts.

"Hinihikayat namin ang mga benepisaryo na nakatanggap ng unang tranche na may smartphone at connection sa internet na i-encode ang kanilang mga detalye sa sinasabing plataporma kapag sila ay nakatira sa mga inanunsiyong ECQ areas noong April 30 at May 2," Bautista said.

[Translation: We encourage beneficiaries who received the first tranche of cash aid, who have a smartphone and internet connection, to encode their details on the said platform if they live in the announced areas under ECQ last April 30 and May 2.]

Meanwhile, financial assistance will be delivered to the houses of those without online payment accounts.

Malaya said some 4.2 billion families in the ‘waitlist’ qualified for the subsidy.

Malacañang announced last month the inclusion of five million more low-income families who were left out in the distribution, while most parts of the country were still under the enhanced community quarantine.

Initially, the government sought to provide ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 each to 18 million low income families a month for two months. The amount will depend on the prevailing minimum wage in their respective regions.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in his 11th report to Congress that as of June 12, 98 percent of the beneficiaries have been able to receive the first tranche of cash aid, whose implementation was marred with delays and corruption allegations.

The DILG reported that 649 individuals are facing criminal complaints for supposed anomalies in the distribution of financial assistance from the social amelioration program. Of this number, 260 are local officials.

The department also ordered some mayors to explain why they failed to deliver aid on time.

Nakapaglabas din po kami ng show cause orders laban sa mga mayors dahil sa iba’t ibang dahilan," Malaya said. "Iyong iba, dahil sa kabagalan sa pamimigay ng cash aid.”

[Translation: We issued show cause orders, some over the delay in delivery of cash aid.]

Lawmakers seek probe on delayed cash distribution

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other House leaders filed a resolution to investigate the distribution of cash assistance to families considered to have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representatives Cayetano, Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr., Abraham Tolentino, Raneo Abu, Dan Fernandez, Neptali Gonzales II, Cristal Bagatsing, Ruth Mariano-Hernandez and Manuel Luis Lopez noted complaints from local governments against the DSWD’s implementation of the social amelioration program.

“Complaints were not limited to the speed of distribution, but also to the number of recipients,” they said in House Resolution No. 973.