P2.13-B amelioration fund released in Soccsksargen

Residents in Region 12 affected by the COVID-19 crisis get the cash assistance under the government’s Social Amelioration Program. (Photo from the Facebook page of DSWD-12)

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 17 April) – At least P2.13 billion has been released to 40 of the 50 local government units (LGUs) in Soccsksargen (Region 12) in line with the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to help tens of thousands of families tide over the debilitating impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, a welfare official said Friday.

Cesario Joel Espejo, Department of Social Welfare and Development-12 director, said the money would help 668,287 families who will each receive P5,000 to assist them tide over the crisis that crippled economic and transport activities.

He said the agency has forged an agreement with LGUs to fast track the distribution of emergency assistance to their constituents within seven days upon receiving the allocation.

“We appreciate the efforts of our partners in the LGUs for smoothly facilitating and working hard for the immediate implementation of the SAP for their constituents” Espejo said.

In Soccsksargen, the DSWD allotted this month some P4.24 billion for the SAP covering a total of 953,853 households from the poor to near poor and informal sector, a document provided by a source showed.

Espejo sad that another set of cash assistance will be given in May 2020 based on the Omnibus Guidelines in the Implementation of Social Amelioration Program, an intervention under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 25, 2020.

The government allotted P200 billion for the SAP that will primarily benefit the poorest of the poor.

Espejo said the LGUs in the region that already received their share started distributing the cash subsidy early this week.

Beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) were also included as SAP recipients.

The 4Ps beneficiaries in the region have already received their grants last week – P750 for health subsidy and P600 rice allowance as part of the 4Ps grants, and the additional P3,650 to complete the P5,000 assistance under the SAP, Espejo said.

Among the first to receive the SAP subsidy was Rene Mata, a 28-year-old farmer from Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat who has two children.

“I will use the financial assistance to buy rice and groceries for my family,” he said, thanking the government.

Soccsksargen, which is home to at least 4.5 million people, straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

The entire region has been placed on an extended lockdown until April 30 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the area. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)