MANILA (UPDATE)—Hoping to get the government dole-out promised to those under lockdown, Maria Paz Aguirre skipped work to fall in line in her barangay in Quezon City.
Already struggling because of the pandemic, Aguirre found out Wednesday night that even claiming the cash assistance would be a trying experience, too.
"Alas-2 pa kami ng hapon kanina, hanggang ngayon wala kaming hapunan. Tubig sabi nila bibigyan daw kami . . . Anong oras na ngayon? Hindi kami pumasok sa trabaho para makuha namin yung pinangako ng Presidente natin," Aguirre told ABS-CBN News.
(We have been waiting since 2 p.m. Thursday and until now, we haven't had dinner. They told us water will be provided . . . We did not go to work to get the money the President promised.)
The distribution of the pandemic aid worth a maximum of P4,000 in some parts of Metro Manila took almost the entire day, beginning late Wednesday morning. In some cases, queues extended until past 2 a.m., Thursday.
The lines stretched for more than a block, and people waiting for them to move sat on the curb exhausted. With the volume of people, social distancing was not observed.
In Quezon City, hundreds of residents lined up at Old Balara Elementary School for hours only to be told to return Thursday.
Local officials began verification of the master list of beneficiaries at 11 a.m. Wednesday and began distribution at 4 p.m.
"'Yung P3,000, P4,000 inaasahan namin kahit magkaano ang iabot sa'min. Pero ano nangyari sa'min? Nganga, gutom, nanghihina. Pipirmahan lang daw ang form namin, pinababalik kami. Sa tingin ba nila may lakas pa kaming bumalik sa ginawa nila samin?" another resident, Milagros Bajado, said.
(We were hoping to get P3,000, P4,000 or whatever they give us. But here we are hungry and tired. They told us our form just has to be signed, then come back. Do they think we still have strength to go back after what they did to us?)
The Quezon City treasurer's office said it was "undermanned" to distribute the assistance to 2,000 beneficiaries, its daily target, with only 5 personnel.
It has changed the method of distribution by calling out recipients in alphabetical order instead of clusters previously. A special lane was designated for those who queued Wednesday but did not receive the cash.
QC mayor Joy sorry for hassle
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, who was on her last quarantine day Thursday, said she would be "hands on" finding a solution to the slow-moving distribution of aid.
"Tingin ko first-day glitches, pero ngayon dapat wala nang excuse para matuloy pa ang ganyang sistema. Dapat maplantsa na yan," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(I think these were first-day glitches, but they don't have an excuse to continue this kind of system today. This should be solved.)
"I apologize for that, I am sorry on behalf of the barangay pero kailangan mag-step up din ang barangay sa ganitong panahon."
(I apologize for that, I am sorry on behalf of the barangay but they also need to step up in these times.)
The local government has coordinated with the QC Police District about the distribution of aid, as the region and nearby provinces implemented a 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, Belmonte said.
In Barangay 420 in Sampaloc, Manila, only 30 beneficiaries were allowed in the village's basketball court, and the rest were given numbers and told to wait in their homes.
--Report from Jervis Manahan, Lyza Aquino, and Lady Vicencio, ABS-CBN News