DSWD asks LGUs to fill in cash aid funding for families not on national gov't list

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 15) — The Social Welfare Department is asking local government units to pull from their own funds to fill in the gaps of the national government in distributing cash aid to indigent families to cushion the blow of the COVID-19 crisis.

In an “appeal to the nation,” the DSWD requested LGUs to look into possible funding sources, including savings and programmed projects for this year, so they can distribute cash assistance to those not yet included in the national government’s list of cash aid beneficiaries.

The welfare department is also appealing to LGUs to come up with their list of beneficiaries as soon as possible and distribute cash assistance to them.

The department has so far transferred P58.58-billion of their P100-billion funding to local governments for the distribution of cash aid. The largest chunk of this went to Region 1, which got around P4-billion for its 120 local government units.

Some local governments have said the national government only approved a fraction of the initial list of beneficiaries they submitted.

This has led to other LGUs, like Pasig City and Manila City, to implement their own cash aid programs, pulling from their own funds to be able to provide financial relief to poor families.

Some 18 million families are supposed to receive between P5,000 to P8,000 for two months under the Bayanihan to Heal as One law so they can better cope with the strict quarantine measures being imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“The poor informal sector members of society have nothing, are not educated, have undernourished members, have no opportunities, and were born on the other side of the tracks so to speak," the DSWD said. "Some of them are trying to get out of that bondage. Let’s help them survive this crisis."

The 18 million target beneficiaries are largely based on the DSWD’s Listahanan, a registry of households and individuals identified by the national government to be the target of social protection programs.

The Listahanan, however, was last updated in 2015 with 15.1 million households in the list. The finance department added three million to this based on the average annual population growth rate, according to Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino.

Lambino said it is now up to the local governments to identify who else would be cash aid beneficiaries, aside from those included in the Listahanan.

Metro Manila mayors, however, have appealed to the Finance and Social Welfare departments to restore the original number of target cash aid beneficiaries, which they said was slashed by the two agencies.