Philippines starts processing cash aid for 18 million families

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 11:57 AM

Homeless people take a bath and wash clothes along TM Kalaw Avenue in Manila on March 30, 2020 amid the enhanced community quarantine being implemented all over Metro Manila to counter the spread of COVID-19. Certain sectors of the population remain at risk because of the poor social support in the country, exposing them to the risk of the virus. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine government started Wednesday the process for its P200-billion cash assistance program for over 18 million poor Filipino families to help them rebuild their lives from the coronavirus pandemic.

Local government units were already asked to submit the list of beneficiaries for the social amelioration program, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual press briefing, as he urged the public to cooperate so that the subsidies can be distributed as soon as possible.

"Our local chief executives have already been advised of the need to submit the list of beneficiaries in their respective areas to the national government,” Nograles, who is also the spokesperson of the government inter-agency task force on COVID-19, said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his first report to Congress on the government's response efforts to the pandemic, said the national government is forming a "consolidated database that will host COVID-19 social amelioration programs."

The database will be based on existing lists provided by LGUs and will be used to determine the subsidy amounts for each beneficiary, Duterte said in his report.

Some 18 million poor Filipino families are set to receive subsidies for 2 months ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act but the Department of Social Welfare and Development reportedly plans to distribute part of the money in the form of relief goods.

While Nograles did not clarify the DSWD's plan, he, however, said the government would provide food packs first before financial aid.

Guidelines released by the DSWD on the social amelioration program state that families entitled to the cash grant will be approached by representatives of their respective LGUs.

"Hintayin lamang po ang hudyat o anunsyo ng inyong mga LGU hinggil sa takdang pagsisimula ng pamamahagi ng benepisyong ito," Nograles said.

(Just wait for the announcement of your LGU regarding the distribution of this aid.)

Among those entitled to the government aid are the elderly, homeless Filipinos, 'no work, no pay' workers, farmers and fishermen, and stranded workers due to the enhanced community quarantine.

-with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News