Release of PHP5,000 cash aid for COVID-19 crisis starts in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 April) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has started the release of the PHP5,000 financial assistance to households hit hardest by the crisis triggered by the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-Region 12 director, said Monday they already completed the validation of some initial qualified beneficiaries in the region for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) based on documents submitted by the local government units (LGUs).

These include the 90 qualified households from Barangay Magsaysay, Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat who received their PHP5,000 emergency assistance on Monday.

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

Espejo said they have fast tracked the processing of documents and other necessary requirements for the rollout of the program in coordination with the LGUs.

He said they have been closely monitoring the distribution and collection of the social amelioration card forms by local government personnel to qualified households.

“We expect some LGUs to also start in the next few days the distribution of the SAP assistance to their constituents,” he told reporters.

The national government has allotted around PHP4 billion for the rollout of the SAP in the entire Soccsksargen, which is under an enhanced community quarantine until April 30 due to the increasing confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Espejo said they have targeted a total of 953,853 households, including 246,000 enlisted with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, as recipients of the PHP5,000 financial assistance.

He said they already started last week the release of the assistance to 4Ps beneficiaries with active cash cards.

These comprise the regular 4Ps grants of PHP750 for health subsidy and P600 for rice allowance, and additional PHP3,650 to complete the PHP5,000 SAP assistance.

Aside from the 4Ps beneficiaries, Espejo said those covered by the SAP are the “most affected and poorest of the poor” households, informal workers, farmers and fisherfolk affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

As provided for in the guidelines for the implementation of the DSWD’s emergency subsidy program under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, workers serving in the private sector, retired individuals currently receiving pension, families with independent financial capacity as well as government officials and employees are not covered by the SAP.

Espejo assured that the qualified household recipients will receive the SAP financial assistance in full.

He said they will not give in to recommendations of some local officials to split the emergency assistance supposedly to cover more affected households.

“There are sanctions if we deviate from the guidelines. The agency strictly adheres to what’s in the law concerning the SAP implementation procedures,” he said.