Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Executive should resolve the wide gap in the Department of Finance (DOF) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) lists of intended beneficiaries of the P200-billion cash subsidy to cushion the impact of the virus crisis.
Lacson said the lists should be reconciled so that DSWD can ensure that nobody would be left out in the government’s assistance to the most vulnerable sector affected by the enhance community quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus.
He noted that the generated data on the recipients of the P200 billion social amelioration fund is one of the issues that “we expect to be resolved.”
The Senate leadership, Lacson related, has been in touch with Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez on the concerns by senators based on feedbacks from local government units (LGUs) and various sectors due to some confusion over the social amelioration program.
Aside from beneficiaries, various sectors have also complained about the misleading and confusing advertisements of the DSWD on the supposed beneficiaries.
Lacson said Dominguez promised to straighten out all questionable issues when President Rodrigo Duterte makes his second weekly report to Congress anytime.
Lacson also took potshots at the Executive for their apparent unpreparedness and lack of foresight.
“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. 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,” noted Lacson.
“I just hope they sort out all the kinks quickly and before people who lost their jobs due to business inactivity and work stoppage become restless and desperate,” he said.
Pressed for the basis of the 18 million identified as beneficiaries of Bayanihan Act, Lacson said it was based on the DOF’s projection on the 2015 or 2016 survey of 16 million families.
The expanded classification, he said, came from the legislators because “we included daily wage earners who stopped earning or lost their income and the informal sector, not just the poorest of the poor.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva said he wants to hear from Duterte the details, specifically the reach of our social amelioration program.
“We are concerned that it seems we are getting bogged down by details of targeting specific households. Our main goal should be getting the assistance to households quickly,” said Villanueva.
He proposed DSWD makes the targeting on an area basis and make sure food and other necessities are distributed in all households in poor area like Payatas, etc.
“We have to address hunger now. We hoping that our efforts to beef up the capacity of our healthcare system continues to be expedited as we are doing now should the quarantine be extended,” he said.
He also wants the President to talk about a concrete plan on how to assist MSMEs, both entrepreneurs and workers alike, and a decision on whether the government is extending the quarantine or not.
He renewed his call for government to consider providing wage support to workers at MSMEs, aside from the relief for entrepreneurs.
“Our workers in MSMEs are generally paid minimum wage and are under the no work, no pay category,” he said
“We hope that our IATF (Inter Agency Task Force) has begun to arrive at a definitive recommendation to the President on extending the quarantine,” he said.
“We join the consensus on extending it for a few more weeks, given that the data and the analysis shared by experts,” he added./Stacy Ang