There should be no obstacle to the release of funds to the country’s most vulnerable sectors now that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act has been enacted and President Duterte himself has issued the order to provide emergency assistance for those hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Sonny Angara said on Wednesday.
Angara said the distribution of cash assistance to the low-income households, the indigent senior citizens and all the other individuals who are not able earn a living due to the implementation of enhanced community quarantines in the entire Luzon and various parts of the Visayas and Mindanao should be carried out without delay.
Angara, who tested positive for COVID-19, is now recuperating.
Based on the report of the President to Congress on the implementation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Angara noted that there is P141.7 billion that has already been released to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) under the 2020 General Appropriations Act that can be used for COVID-19 response activities.
“We need to utilize these funds immediately. Paulit-ulit natin sinasabi na may pera para sa mga kababayan natin na naapektuhan ng COVID-19 pero base sa naririnig natin, hanggang ngayon ay marami pa din sa kanila ang wala pang natatanggap,” Angara said.
“Sa panahon na ito, tanging ang tulong ng gobyerno ang inaasahan ng mahihirap na pamilya para pambili ng essential goods tulad ng pagkain at gamot. Wala silang pagkukuhan ng kita ngayon kaya ibigay na agad ang tulong para sa kanila,” Angara added.
From the P141.7 billion total released to the DSWD, P108.7 billion is allotted to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Another P23.1 billion is for the social pension for indigent seniors; P8.7 billion for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS); and P1.2 billion in quick response funds.
“Wala ako nakikita na dahilan para ma-delay pa ang pagbigay ng ayuda sa mahihirap. Matagal na ito pinapatupad kaya alam na ng DSWD kung ano ang dapat gawin. Ang kinaibahan lang sa sitwasyon ngayon ay may national emergency tayo kaya mas mabilis pa dapat ang pagkilos natin,” Angara said.
For the social pension, the DSWD has released a memorandum circular on the provision of social amelioration measures, including the continued implementation of the social pension for indigent seniors.
“We thank the DSWD for heeding our call to continue the provision of the monthly social pension for our indigent seniors and to deliver the P500 stipend to them door-to-door. Seniors are the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus and in the case of the indigent seniors, they have literally nothing, which is why the government’s support to them should be uninterrupted,” Angara said.
The DSWD is currently working on the implementation of the AICS in the various areas of Luzon. Among the target beneficiaries of this are the drivers of public utility vehicles and TNVS, who were forced to stop operating when the enhanced community quarantine was enforced.
It has also procured and distributed food and non-food items with the help of the local government units.
“Time is of the essence here so we must provide assistance to the poor ASAP. We are fighting against hunger and unrest. We must act now,” Angara said./Stacy Ang