Palace hopes 60% of 2nd tranche of SAP distributed by next week
Malacañang expressed hope on Wednesday that when the Department of Social Welfare and Development starts to distribute cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program by next week, it could immediately reach 60 percent of the target beneficiaries.
In a television interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said P105 billion has been earmarked for the second tranche of cash assistance for low income families and vulnerable sectors affected by the quarantine measures due to coronavirus disease.
"Realistically, we are hoping that at least a majority of the P105 billion would already have been disbursed electronically because included also in their (DSWD) data is about 1.5 (million), more or less, beneficiaries under the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program)," he said.
"So, you would have a minimum 1.5 and then those that qualified electronically. So, we are hoping that at least 60% would be done by next week," Roque added.
Quoting DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, Roque said the primary mode of distribution of financial aid to about 18 million beneficiaries would be through electronic.
"And since its electronic, to those who would be covered, they can distribute in two days’ time, the balance. Those who have no access to electronic payments will still be done manually, but this time, it will be disbursed with the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said.
As to the call of opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros for an audit of the P325 billion, which the Duterte administration has set aside to fight COVID-19, the spokesman said, "it’s very easy to account for it because a big bulk of it is intended for ayuda, social amelioration."
He said the rest were spent for personal protective equipment, medical equipment and benefits to frontliners.
"So, we are really going to account for about P100 billion, more or less. And given the number of PPEs and other equipment that we have bought, it’s very easy to account," Roque said.
The spokesman also said the Palace would verify the number of severely ill health workers who are entitled to P100,000, indicating that the initial number given by the Department of Health was low.
"One thing I need to clarify is the P100,000 which should be given to those who became severely ill with COVID, and right now, they have identified under 20 persons to have received the P100,000 benefit. So, I’d like to verify how many actually should be entitled because it maybe a bit difficult to believe that only about 20 frontliners became critically ill with COVID-19. So, we will have to check on that figure," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had been enraged when he learned that more than two months had passed since the passage of the Bayanihan Act and yet the cash assistance for the severely ill health workers and those who perished had not yet been released by the DOH.
He gave the health department until June 9 to distribute the assistance to the beneficiaries - P100,000 each for critically sick and P1 million each for those who perished due to COVID-19. Celerina Monte/DMS