(UPDATE) Students and parents flocked to the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon City to get educational cash assistance, just days before school opens.
Some of them started to queue Friday and spent the night on the pavement. The line stretched from DSWD Central Office on IBP Road to San Mateo Road.
The DSWD office started to open at 7 a.m. Saturday.
The agency earlier announced that indigent students throughout the country may get between P1,000 and P4,000 in educational assistance.
This is part of the DSWD's Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program. Elementary students will receive P1,000. High-school students get P2,000 and P3,000 for senior high school students. Vocational at college students receive P4,000.
This is handed out once every school year.
Students from San Jose Del Monte city, Bulacan started to wait in line at noon on Friday to submit their applications.
"Para po mauna, or at least magkaroon ng slot since wala po kaming schedule. Magwo-walk in lang po kami ... Bale galing po kami ng school ng mga 8 a.m. po kumuha kami ng enrollment and then dire-diretso na po kami dito," third-year college student Ruth Mariñas said.
Jude Parpan is also hoping to get the educational assistance, saying: "Sa pangangailangan din namin tsaka baon ko rin sa school sa expenses din sa bahay."
The P4,000 cash assistance will help students such as Parpan, who said they don't have their own house and are living with his uncle.
His family relies on the income of a sibling who works at a construction firm. But it's not enough because of medical expenses for their mother's eyes.
"Kasi napakarami po namin. May special child kami na dalawa, tapos may sakit pa yung mama ko. ’Yung kuya ko lang ’yung sumusuporta sa’min, so kulang po talaga," Parpan said.
"First sa bahay namin gusto ko pong makapagpagawa ng bahay namin and second siguro gusto kong makapagbusiness. Sa kapatid ko naman po kailangan pang-check up nila sa medical, pati sa nanay ko po."
Gracelyn Sebellita, a graduating college student, said that she will use the cash assistance to pay for school fees and fares.
"Naranasan po kasi namin na walang makuhanan o walang mahiraman ng kahit anong tulong sa ibang tao at namamaliit din po ’yung mga magulang ko. Ginusto ko pong makapagtapos kasi ako po ’yung unang ga-graduate," Sebellita said.
Meanwhile, Henry Reyes, 64, also went to the DSWD office to get the cash assistance but failed to obtain a schedule. He accompanied his two grandchildren for the cash assistance.
"Gusto kong pumila dito para makakuha ako ng ayuda pambili ng sapatos ang apo ko, uniporme at tsaka mga notebook," Reyes said.
"Ako lang ang naghahanap-buhay tapos ’yung anak ko nasa Aparri. Minsan sa isang linggo nagbibigay siya P1,000, kulang pa rin. Ako dumidiskarte lahat."
Judy dela Cruz, a mother, also endured the long line for her five children who are now in grade school.
"Hanggang kahit gabi po basta magkaroon pa rin kami ng blessing," Dela Cruz said.
"Napakalaking bagay po dahil wala po talaga akong pambiling gamit dahil ang asawa ko po isang sidecar boy lang po. Pasukan na po wala pa rin akong pambiling gamit. Gipit po ang buhay."
DSWD TO RECALIBRATE STRATEGIES
In an interview at the DSWD Central Office, DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said his office prioritized beneficiaries who registered online.
"Yes, may walk-in tayo pero kawawa naman siyempre nagpa-register tayo. Pagkatapos hindi mo naman uunahin," he said.
The official told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo that the long queue will prompt them to "recalibrate" their strategy next Saturday for the dole-out.
Many beneficiaries in Metro Manila and nearby provinces went to the Central Office instead of their respective field offices.
"Ire-recalibrate natin. First time ng karamihan dito ... Halos lahat ng tao sa Metro Manila pumunta sa office, dito lang naman ito problema sa Central Office kasi pati taga-Caloocan, taga-Valenzuela, Malabon, Pasay, dito pumunta," he said.
Some local officials have already offered their help to streamline the distribution, Tulfo noted. They are still looking into the possibility of letting municipalities and city social welfare offices to make things easier.
"Para maiwasan ang favoritism, dapat mayroon kaming social welfare officers doon, sila ang magbabantay para hindi maulit yung inuuna si ganito, si ganon," said the official.
The payout for the cash assistance, which starts Saturday and runs for the next six Saturdays until September 24, will be distributed at the DSWD Central Office at Batasan, including all Field and Social Welfare Development Offices at Batasan and satellite offices.
Tulfo had said about 24,000 students and parents will apply for the educational assistance in the central office alone.