Sotto asks LGUs to shoulder cash aid for families not on emergency subsidy list
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday, April 14, asked local officials to shoulder first the cash aid for families who were originally on their local governments' emergency subsidy list but were cut by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In a DZMM interview, Sotto suggested that local government units (LGUs) can just charge the national government later.
"Ngayon, sa baba naman, tutal delayed…hindi nagtutugma, karamihan naman ng mga LGU kakayanin. Abonohan mo muna, makakasingil ka naman sa gobyerno," Sotto added.
(Now, on the ground, since the disbursement of the cash aid has been delayed and there's a discrepancy with the lists, majority of the LGUs can shoulder it. Cover for it first, then you can ask the government to reimburse you later.)
"Katulong ninyo kami na maniningil diyan at kung ano ang pondong kailangan, kung kailangan kaming gumawang batas para diyan, gagawin namin," he added.
(We will help you in asking for payment, and if there are funds needed, if we need to pass a law for that, we will do so.)
The Senate president suggested that local officials tap into their disaster funds for the cash aid, since the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act has lifted the 30% cap for the quick response fund.
"Ang usapan dito, buhay muna. Saka na 'yung pera. Saka na 'yung gobyerno. Hindi maibabalik 'yung buhay, pero 'yung pera, maibabalik 'yan. Kikitain ng gobyerno 'yan," he said.
(What we're talking about here is life. Think about the money later. Think about the government later. We can't bring back life, but the money, we can get it back. The government will earn that again.)
Sotto said that the DSWD cannot refuse giving aid to those who were included in the LGUs' lists. (READ: Duterte chaos leaves barangay officials 'helpless' amid lockdown)
"Hindi p'wedeng sabihin ng DSWD na 'yun lang. Hindi p'wede. Kung kulang, handa ang gobyerno magbigay," Sotto said. (DSWD can't say that they are excluding [some beneficiaries]. That can't be. If the cash aid is not enough, then the government is ready to give.)
Metro Manila mayors earlier passed a resolution urging the DSWD to restore the original number of beneficiaries allotted to them. They said that the agency, including the Department of Finance, had initially provided a number of beneficiaries that were higher than the final target.
In a message to reporters, Sotto said that he will file a resolution urging the chamber to launch a probe into the government's failure to implement the national ID system, which was often blamed for the slow disbursement of cash aid to low-income families.
"The system should have been in place now if not for the red tape. I will urge the Senate to investigate why this is so when we resume," Sotto said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Identification System in August 2018. Based on a Philippine Statistics Authority timeline in 2019, all Filipinos should be able to enroll for a national ID by mid-2020. (READ: National ID law: Here's the law, plus a quick summary)
Under the Bayanihan law, 18 million low-income Filipinos will receive P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the regional minimum wage, for two months. (READ: Paano maaaring tumanggap ng tulong mula sa emergency subsidy program ng DSWD?)
As of April 11, the DSWD has disbursed P16 billion worth of subsidy to 3.72 million Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries. Meanwhile, over P47 billion were transferred to various local governments, but only some P335 million have been disbursed.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines has 5,223 coronavirus cases, with 335 deaths and 295 recoveries. – Rappler.com