DSWD eyes possible one-time extension of educational assistance payout

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 17) The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is looking into a possible one-time extension of the educational assistance distribution even after the six-week payout ends on Sept. 24.

DSWD Spokesperson Romel Lopez on Saturday said the extension depends on the availability of funds from the ₱1.5 billion allocation after the last day of distribution.

He noted there is a huge possibility for an additional payout as there may be funds left.

"Pinag-aaralan din po talaga ni (DSWD) secretary (Erwin Tulfo). Sa dami ng aplikante ay baka magkaroon tayo, baka may one-time big time payout," Lopez told reporters. "Pero 'yung Sept. 24, mananatili siya as is, siya 'yung last na payout natin para doon sa ₱1.5-billion (allocation). Kung may matitira man, magcocome up tayo ng guidelines."

[Translation: DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo is studying it. Since there are many applicants, we might have a one-time big time payout. But the Sept. 24 remains as is -- our last payout date for the ₱1.5-billion allocation. If there are any funds left, we will come up with guidelines.]

As of Sept. 17, the agency has given educational assistance to a total of 414,482 students -- exceeding its target beneficiaries of 400,000.

It has also handed out over ₱1 billion of its total budget, mostly to college, vocational, and elementary students.

Should the one-time extension push through, Lopez said the DSWD will no longer reopen the online registration, which the department closed last week because its system could no longer handle the influx of applicants. 

"Kung may kukunin man kami outside nung ating two million na applicants, ito na po 'yung ating mga kababayan na walang access sa internet o sa gadgets. Pero 'yung magkakaroon pa ng bagong aplikasyon, it's very unlikely," he explained.

[Translation: If we will be getting beneficiaries outside the two million applications we received online, it will be those who do not have access to the internet or gadgets. But it's very unlikely that we will accept new applicants.]

Lopez added that the DSWD is in talks with lawmakers to help identify possible payout venues to bring down the distribution per district.

He, however, clarified that the department will take care of the funding, disbursement, and assessment of applicants.