DSWD cites delays with only 2.1M families getting second tranche of cash aid as of mid-July

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) – Three key issues have plagued the release of the remaining balance of cash aid to the country's poorest families, which reached just over 2 million target beneficiaries as of mid-July.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development said on Wednesday that validating duplicate benefits, delayed liquidation reports from local government units, as well as payout protocols of financial technology firms and banks have bogged down fund releases meant to support some of the country's poorest families during the March to May lockdown.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said they have so far released the cash aid worth ₱5,000-₱8,000 to 2.18 million households who got the funds electronically.

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He added that over 700,000 beneficiaries are expected to receive the subsidy between today and Thursday, through a mix of digital and manual distribution channels.

Bautista said a big challenge is deduplication, where authorities need to check if a family already received a different form of cash aid from another agency. The rules limit one household to just one type of financial assistance from the government during the pandemic.

"Maraming tayong cases na sinasabing nakatanggap ng double payment. Doon tayo nagiging maingat [We have numerous reports of double payments. That's where we're being careful]," Bautista said during the media briefing.

The list includes families part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which is automatically transferred by the DSWD, while the rest are identified by local officials.

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He added that several local government units, which are in charge of identifying beneficiaries of the program, have yet to submit liquidation reports for the first batch of fund releases. He said this hinders the release of the balance of the aid as it will rely on the list of names from LGUs, but acknowledged that some reasons for the delay have to be accommodated.

Another concern is the stringent "know-your-client" protocol employed by financial service providers, saying these private firms employ their own validation systems.

"As a conservative projection, we might be able to attain 80 percent of accomplishment by July 31. We're still hoping by the end of July, there will be more than 80 percent," Bautista added.

The Philippine government has spent ₱374.89 billion on COVID-19 response, with more than half the amount allocated for cash aid at ₱200.98 billion. The amount has been lodged with the DSWD and to be downloaded to cities, towns, and barangays.

Distribution of the second tranche of aid started June 11.