As the government gets ready to roll out financial assistance to families affected by the coronavirus crisis, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano pushed for a house-to-house distribution of the relief.
The recently signed Republic Act 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” provides an emergency subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 monthly for a span of two months to each of the 18 million low-income households affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cayetano called on the executive department and local government units to adopt “out-of-the box solutions” to enforce the newly enacted law that allows flexibility to source funding through reallocation of the national budget in response to the economic and health impact of the pandemic.
He said finding the money and resources to give to the people “is just half of the problem,” but the greater challenge was the actual distribution of the aid and efficient delivery of quick-response programs.
“The question now is how do we distribute the aid to those who need it most, at the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of waste and corruption,” he said.
Cayetano proposed key parameters that could be adopted in the distribution of cash or non-cash aid such as the house-to-house strategy, no-contact policy and photo-documentation.
“We must strike a crucial balance between delivering much-needed aid, while making sure that we keep contact and the risk of contamination as close to zero as we can,” he added.
Cayetano stressed the need to deviate from the traditional relief operations where organizers distribute tickets for claiming during a scheduled date of distribution in a common venue. The beneficiaries are then required to sign a proof of acceptance for documentation.
He said the traditional process of distribution would not be feasible under the current situation given the risks of contamination.
“Our objective in Congress is to help in the building of a delivery system that is fast, effective and complete with all the safeguards necessary for government to protect the people,” he said.
Cayetano proposed for a team of five people to facilitate the distribution. The team shall be composed of a local government representative from the Social Welfare department, barangay (village) affairs office or urban poor affairs office; from the barangay; from the office of a congressman; from the homeowners association, urban poor neighborhood association, or nongovernment organization; and the police or military for security purposes.
A well-represented group of five can help ensure transparency and accountability in the distribution of funds to address the issue of mistrust, the Speaker explained.
He also suggested that the distribution team should be equipped with protective gears, such as goggles, protective gowns, gloves and alcohol. For a more efficient distribution process, he added that each team should have cellphones, camera, food and transportation.
Emergency subsidy program guidelines
Meanwhile, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay Second District Rep. José María Clemente “Joey” Salceda called on the government to ensure that the emergency subsidy reaches “the broadest coverage possible to keep everyone on the boat” as he disclosed that “copies of the emerging draft for the emergency subsidy program of the Duterte government have been circulated among legislators.”
“This will be the biggest single social amelioration program in Philippine history at P275 billion, so we have to make sure it reaches the most affected families,” he said.
Salceda revealed that under the draft guidelines, “there will be multiple eligibilities, and they’re finalizing that, but definitely if you are poor, your family should be part of the program.”
Salceda disclosed that target beneficiaries of the emergency subsidy program were senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, overseas Filipinos in distress, indigent indigenous peoples, and the underprivileged and homeless; informal workers including directly hired or occasional workers, subcontracted workers, home workers and house helpers; drivers of pedicabs, tricycles, jeepney, passenger vans, buses and taxis; transport network vehicle service and transport network companies; micro-entrepreneurs and producers, operators of sari-sari stores, and family enterprise owners; sub minimum wage earners, farmers, fisherfolk and farm workers; and employees affected by “No work, no pay” policy and not covered by the Department of Labor and employment Order 209, series of 2020 or any Labor department issuance on adjustment measures program and stranded workers.
Salceda also proposed for an open-application window for those who could not be captured in the initially listed groups.
“‘Yung kulang lang (The only thing missing) is the frontline workers in essential services. I’m still pushing hard for that sector,” he added.
Salceda also appealed to include around 1 million barangay officials, barangay health workers, tanod (village watchmen), secretaries and treasurers in the subsidy program.