LGUs to help distribute student aid next week, says Tulfo

Job Manahan and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2022 03:19 PM | Updated as of Aug 20 2022 05:24 PM

Thousands of people rush to the Department of Social Welfare and Development headquarters in Quezon City on August 20, 2022 to avail of the educational assistance being offered ahead of the first day of classes. Only those registered online have been permitted to claim their assistance forcing some to register and get their online DSWD QR registration forms outside the DSWD office. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News
Thousands of people rush to the Department of Social Welfare and Development headquarters in Quezon City on August 20, 2022 to avail of the educational assistance being offered ahead of the first day of classes. Only those registered online have been permitted to claim their assistance forcing some to register and get their online DSWD QR registration forms outside the DSWD office. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

No extension of dole-out for now — Tulfo

MANILA (UPDATED) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will tap local government units and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help hand out cash assistance for indigent students starting next week, Sec. Erwin Tulfo said on Saturday. 

Tulfo said this was also upon the instructions of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who supposedly called around 10 in the morning to inquire about the developments and offered the help of the DILG.

Several DSWD offices could not cope with the number of people that gathered in their premises all hoping to avail of the student aid earlier in the day. In Zamboanga City, 29 people were hurt as they tried to get requirements. 

Tulfo said his agency and the DILG would issue a memorandum of agreement. 

"Starting next week, tutulong na ang local government units kung [taga] saan po kayo. Kung kayo ay taga-Caloocan, sa Caloocan ang payout. Kung kayo ay taga-QC, sa QC ang payout," he told reporters in a briefing. 

"Ang magma-manage po nito ay DSWD social workers, mga empleyado ng DSWD main ang magbabantay. Ang payout lamang po ay mga munisipyo at lungsod para synchronized tayo, hindi tayo magulo."

He assured the public that the same requirements — a student's official ID and enrollment certificate — would remain but no proof of indigency would be needed. 

Under the DSWD program, poor elementary pupils can get P1,000, high school students can get P2,000, while senior high school and college students may receive P3,000 and P4,000, respectively.

“Basta hanggang tatlong anak lang,” he said. 

The DSWD is considering the use of QR codes as “walk in” claimants tend to cut lines, resulting into chaos, Tulfo said.

“Binigyan namin ng stub para bumalik, ayaw naman bumalik… Hindi ko alam if they don’t understand or kung ayaw nilang intindihin,” he said.

Tulfo said he told Marcos that the number of claimants soared this year after the DSWD eased requirements in the claiming the cash grant.

When asked what was Marcos’ marching order with regard to the incident, Tulfo said: “He said bantayan, tutukan.”

EXTENSION

Asked if there would be a need to extend beyond September 24 the educational assistance, Tulfo said this would only happen if "the need arises." 

"Depende, kung marami pa rin but I think that would be enough. Limang Saturdays pa po. I don't think kailangan pa naming mag-extend. I think mararating na po sila," the DSWD chief said. 

He also assured the public that they have "enough funds" to cover all indigent students until the last Saturday of September. Tulfo earlier said some P500 million were allotted for the 6-week program. 

The DSWD main office will be closed between 6 and 7 in the evening even if there are still hundreds of people outside, the Secretary said.

“Ayoko gawin na palayasin sila diyan, idesperse sila diyan,” he said.

“Ang kasalanan lang nila they do not want to listen. Kapag ang tao nasa krisis, medyo magulo ang utak… We will deal with them with patience.”

But ACT-Philippines chairperson Vladimer Quetua criticized the agency for not releasing the cash assistance at an earlier date. 

Quetua said it was just natural for beneficiaries to rush in DSWD offices on Saturday since the official start of in-person classes would resume already on Monday. 

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"It also highlights the glaring need of aid for Filipino families. Dapat ay mas maaga ito ibinigay dahil milyon ang nangangailangan ng tulong. Ngayon lang sila mamimigay ng ayuda eh pasukan na sa Lunes. Malamang dadagsa talaga ang tao sa tindi ng krisis," said Quetua in a statement. 

Teachers, he said, were also scrambling to prepare certificates of enrollment because of the abrupt cash aid distribution. 

"Ang departamento na dapat ay nagbibigay ng dignidad sa mahihirap, pinagmukhang timawa ang ating mga kababayan. Isinuong pa sila sa panganib ng hawahan," he added. 

TULFO APOLOGIZES 

Tulfo ended the virtual press conference by apologizing to the public who may have been inconvenienced by the incident outside the DSWD main office and other regional hubs.

He asked the public though to give DSWD "a chance" since they are doing their best to make the program equal for everyone. 

"I am sorry. I apologize kung kayo ay hindi nabigyan ng cash ayuda pero wala akong sinabi na lahat kayo ay bibigyan ko ng cash ayuda today," he said. 

"I hope you understand dahil binuksan natin ito sa mga mahihirap. I hope you would understand and give DSWD a chance. We are working very hard para sa inyo para pantay-pantay."

Tulfo earlier told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo that the long queue will prompt them to "recalibrate" their strategy next Saturday for the dole-out. 

The payout for the cash assistance, which starts Saturday and runs for the next six Saturdays until September 24, was earlier distributed at the DSWD Central Office at Batasan, including all Field and Social Welfare Development Offices at Batasan and satellite offices.