Clearer picture on cash aid expected from Duterte’s second report on special powers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — Lawmakers are expecting to see a clearer picture on how the government will distribute the cash aid to indigent families in President Rodrigo Duterte’s second report to Congress on his special powers to address the COVID-19 crisis.

“The President wanted to inform us that they will straighten out the confusion brought about by the database of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that does not tally with the local government unit database,” Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said, citing Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is also urging the executive department to iron out the system of distributing cash aid soon.

“I urge all concerned agencies to perfect the distribution system on this first month of [the] enhanced community quarantine since we still do not know how long this crisis will last,” Go said.

Sotto added that he also expects Duterte to heed the senators’ suggestion to broaden the coverage of the cash subsidy.

Among the key provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One law, which gave Duterte special powers, is the provision of a ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 monthly allowance for two months to indigent families.

The DSWD said that all 3.6 million Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries with cash cards have received their emergency subsidies on Sunday, which the agency said totalled to more than ₱16.3 billion.

The emergency subsidies for 4Ps beneficiaries who do not have cash cards have been remitted to DSWD regional offices.

“The department is working on the distribution arrangements with the local government units together with the city or municipal links who will coordinate with the beneficiaries for the scheduled release of their emergency cash subsidy,” the DSWD said.

The DSWD has also distributed 78,651 food packs to local governments in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula on top of other financial and non-food aid, according to Duterte’s first report to Congress.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One law, which was passed last week, Duterte should deliver a weekly report to Congress every Monday, where he would detail what the government has done in the past week with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report should include how much of the funds have been used, how much has been added, reprogrammed, reallocated and realigned for COVID-19 response.

The government can use at least ₱882.19-billion to fund its fight against COVID-19 from dividends, unreleased appropriations, excess and unauthorized balances, cash, and cash equivalents, according to Duterte’s first report to Congress.

The country now has 3,246 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll climbing to 152, while the total number of recoveries is now at 64.