Less than half of 18M household beneficiaries received aid, as Palace warns LGUs to face charges if they fail to release first tranche by end of April

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Only less than half of the 18 million low-income households targeted to benefit from the government’s emergency cash subsidy amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have received the assistance as of Friday last week.

In a related development, local government officials who will fail to completely distribute the first tranche of the emergency subsidy program for low-income households by April 30 may face charges, Malacañang warned.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth weekly report to Congress mandated under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act revealed the low figures, prompting Malacañang to issue the warning.

Duterte’s report stated that out of the 18,046,093 intended beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Program, around 6,266,522 have been served as of April 24.

Of those who received assistance, 3.7 million are Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, 2.5 million are non-4Ps beneficiaries, and 40,418 are transport network vehicle service and public utility vehicle drivers.

The report added that out of the P96.85 billion that has so far been disbursed for the emergency cash subsidy, more than P31 billion have already been received by the beneficiaries.

A total of P100.9 billion has been alloted for the emergency cash subsidy program, which is sourced from the pooled savings from discontinued unreleased appropriations as well as the DSWD’s regular appropriations.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, around 18 million low-income households belonging to the informal sector will be targeted to receive monthly emergency subsidies amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 for April and May.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista earlier said that low-income families living in areas where the enhanced community quarantine will soon be lifted will still receive the emergency cash subsidy in May.

He pointed out that the downloading of the emergency cash subsidy funds to local government units will depend on whether they have already submitted a liquidation report for the cash grants distributed in April.

He also said the inter-agency technical working group on social amelioration program is currently in talks to come up with the proposed guidelines on the distribution of the cash subsidies after President Rodrigo Duterte extended the enhanced community quarantine in some areas until May 15.

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the warning amid allegations of slow distribution of the cash aid which was intended to support poor families and informal sector workers greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Magkakaroon po ng show cause order kung bakit hindi sila dapat panagutin administratively and criminally. They may be held liable for dereliction of duty, which is a form of graft,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed local government units on Monday to expedite the distribution of the cash aid after he received reports that some low-income families have not yet received the financial assistance ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 despite having filled up the social amelioration forms./Stacy Ang

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