Agusan PWD gets P5,000 SAP subsidy, but told it was a mistake shortly after

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 28 April) – Primitivo Payod, 46, a resident of Barangay 4 here, was delighted to hold at the palm of his hands five crisp P1,000 bills from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) last Saturday at the municipal gymnasium where 399 other beneficiaries waited in queue.

Primitivo Payod selling vegetables with his bicycles, which he could not pedal because of his polio. He was given P5,000 for the government’s Social Amelioration Program on Saturday (25 April 2020), but he was told it was a mistake and asked to return the money. MindaNews photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

But his happiness was short-lived. As he was about to leave, he was told it was all a mistake and that he should return the money.

Payod, a polio victim since he was three and now raising three children, was listed at number 304. He thus waited until early afternoon to take his turn to sign the document from a staff of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office to receive the P5,000 cash from SAP, an emergency subsidy program for 18 million Filipino families whose lives are greatly affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“I would not go there if my neighbors did not tell me that they saw my wife’s name on the list and we even received a note confirming we are beneficiaries,” Payod said. Because his wife was looking after their children in their dilapidated home, Payod opted to be the one to go to the gym to claim the money.

Edendita Batiao, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer of San Francisco, said Payod is part of Set 9 of the new members of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) approved in 2020.

His happiness clutching the cold cash had gone awry in just a few moments when Barangay 4 Kagawad Concepcion dela Fuerte called him while he was about to leave, telling him to return the money to the MSWDO table after a staff found out in another document that he is already a 4Ps member.

He returned the money feeling disappointed and went home empty handed.

Dela Fuente, who is chairman of persons with disabilities (PWD) at the barangay council, explained that he should return the money or he will lose the privilege of being a lifetime 4Ps member.

He further said that 4Ps members are not included in the P5,000 per beneficiary of SAP distributed to at least 9,000 families in this town.

But Payod said he had been applying as 4Ps member since 2010 but was just recently approved since he could not present legal documents in the past, including their marriage certificate and the birth certificates of their three children because of difficulties in processing these documents.

It was only last year when Dela Fuente helped the Payod family process their documents.

She assured that Payod will be included among the 4Ps beneficiaries who will receive the P5,000 SAP subsidy this week when he will be given the cash card that can be used to withdraw from the automatic teller machine of the Land Bank of the Philippines branch in this town.

But contrary to Dela Fuente’s assurance, Gretchin Bautista, municipal link of the local government unit with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said the fund for the 4Ps SAP is already available at the bank only that they still await the schedule of the release of the ATM cash card.

Batiao said apart from P5,000 subsidy, Payod as a new 4Ps member will also get the initial P2,600 using his cash card.

Bautista, however, said that the voluminous processing could delay the release of the cash cards that she feared the money could likely be withdrawn after the COVID-19 crisis.

“There is a need to fast-track the subsidy release of the Set 9 4Ps members to let them be also relieved of the hardships in these times of crisis,” Batiao said.

The effect of the ECQ has made it hard for Payod to feed his family that he struggled to sell vegetables around the neighborhood and at times selling face masks using his bicycle which he could not pedal, using only his right foot to push the bike.

He said it would be lucky if he could sell at least P400 a day for a profit of P200 for their daily subsistence. Before the crisis, Payod was a canvasser for PP Bus Line plying the Davao City-to-Pasay City route, earning P50 per passenger at an average of six passengers a day. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)