TURNING POINT: The Sickening SAP Cash Aid

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 16 May) —  It makes one mad to watch newscast footages of harried people, especially the weak and the infirm elderly, lumped together in long queues under the scorching sun, and lately under the rain, to get their SAP (Social Amelioration Program) cash aid. As reported, they were there as early as 3 a.m. and had been standing for some 10 hours but were not entertained by anyone and had received nothing. Previous newscast detailed people collapsing apparently from dehydration or hunger and one or two had already died from heat stroke.

This is cruel and unthinkable. This is criminal. This is an evident violation of the  Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). What is the Inter-Agency Task Force’s  response to this sickening situation?

What is going on? Whatever happened to the plan to make house-to-house distribution of SAP assistance to every poor family, with the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)?

The lack of credentials or the need to validate the same to avoid recipient duplication is a moronic reason for the long-delayed distribution of cash assistance to the extremely needy. Everyone now is hungry. What is duplication of a hundred of recipients, perhaps,  over a million who are already suffering from starvation?

And lack of funds cannot be invoked as another reason for the government functionaries’ inability to hand cash. Eighteen million families are supposed to benefit from the 200 billion peso SAP cash emergency assistance. It’s doubtful if 20 percent of the target has already been reached. There’s so much to give. Why is this so much lag in giving?

Truth to tell, the extremely poor are those without credentials. Do you expect credentials from the vagabonds and homeless?

This flip-flopping and mindless implementation of lockdown remedial measures derail both the fight against the pandemic and hunger.

This demands urgent attention and action from the IATF.

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The lockdown in Metro Manila and Luzon has passed 60 days. That’s about four incubation periods of SARS COV-2 prevented from making infection. If the lockdown were effectively implemented, the virus theoretically would have been history.

The implementation, however, was very much wanting. A lot of people violated lockdown restrictions intentionally or unintentionally for a variety of reasons, foremost of which are consequences of poverty. The poorest of the poor live in slums, trash dumps, and along stagnant esteros where the stench is unbearable, and the heat in their constricted dwellings is suffocating that forces them out if only to breathe, and to look for food for their famished families.

On the other hand, some a privileged few can’t help but flaunt their privilege, risking the public for their irresponsible misdoing.

So the virus could still be lurking somewhere for an ambush. Thus, the second wave to the hospitals and to the morgues.

While there are still so much unknowns and uncertainties, it is better to stay home and avoid being carried away by the wave.

The virus has been with us since January. It is interesting to know how many were infected, had resisted, and had acquired immunity to it. If only for this, the mass antibodies testing gives pyscho-social dividends to the stressed populace. The results of the test may yet be valuable in designing fresh measures to further curtail the pandemic while waiting for the discovery of a Covid-19 vaccine. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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