1.19 million families receive gov’t cash aid

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Over one million families in seven regions received billions worth of cash aid from the government on Friday, the Land Bank of the Philippines said. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — Over one million families in seven regions received billions worth of cash aid from the government on Friday, the Land Bank of the Philippines said.

The government-owned financial institution said 1.19 million families in Metro Manila, the Cordillera, Bangsamoro, Calabarzon, Ilocos, Cagayan, and Central Luzon received ₱6.05 billion worth of credits in their bank cash cards. This is part of the COVID-19 response.

Another 1.29 million beneficiaries in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and the Zamboanga Peninsula will get their share worth ₱5.26 billion on Saturday, while 1.23 million families in the rest of the regions will get ₱5.01 million on Sunday. The beneficiaries are part of the existing conditional cash transfer program.

The national government has allotted ₱200 billion in cash aid to about 18 million low-income households.

Families covered include the homeless, those with at least one member who is on a no-work-no pay situation, a senior citizen, a solo parent, a person with disability or a pregnant and lactating woman. They could avail of between ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 worth of cash aid a month for two months, according to a joint memorandum signed by seven Cabinet secretaries.

The joint memorandum, dated March 28, provides guidelines on the social amelioration measures including including basing the amount each household will get on the prevailing minimum wage per region. The subsidy program is in line with Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gives President Rodrigo Duterte new powers to handle the current health crisis.

Cashless transfer of aid

Meanwhile, the Anti Red Tape Authority or ARTA earlier recommended that the transactions to and from beneficiaries be done through cashless means as this would “reduce the risk of cash carrying the virus itself.”

ARTA Director General Jeremiah B. Belgica, in an April 2 letter to Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, said “when possible it’s a good idea to use contactless payments.”

Belgica acknowledged that not every Filipino has a bank account.

To address this, the DSWD could assist the beneficiaries in applying for bank accounts online, he said.

He added the online bank registration "removes many opportunities of abuse, fraud and politicizing" and gives them a database of target beneficiaries.

ARTA is the latest member of the IATF, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

Duterte had earlier approved the recommendations of the IATF to restrict the movement of people, ordering most except for those rendering vital services to stay at home, in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19. The quarantine is scheduled to last until midnight of April 13.