Malacañang on Monday urged local government units (LGUs) to finish distributing the first tranche of cash aid under the social amelioration program (SAP) to qualified residents even as the deadline for distribution lapsed on May 10.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said only around 91 percent of low-income households have received the cash aid.
“Patuloy pa rin dapat ang pamimigay until bawiin ang pondo ng DSWD (They should continue the distribution of cash aid until the Department of Social Welfare and Development withdraws the funds),” Roque said in a virtual presser.
Under the PHP200-billion SAP, LGUs in coordination with the DSWD, are mandated to distribute the emergency subsidies, ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000, to 18 million poor families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Importante po makarating pa rin ang ayuda doon sa natitirang 9 percent na hindi pa po nakatatanggap (It is important that the cash aid reaches the remaining 9 percent that have not received them yet),” he added.
Interior Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya, in a radio interview, said 1,265 LGUs have already distributed the emergency subsidy under the SAP.
Malaya said the deadline for the distribution of cash aid would no longer be extended, but clarified that the deadline is only an indicator of the performance of LGUs and does not mean that LGUs should stop distributing cash aid to their constituents.
Roque, however, said there was also a basis for the DILG to issue a show cause order to LGUs that were not able to complete the distribution on or before the May 10 deadline.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide when the second tranche of cash aid will start being distributed, Roque said.
The government, he said, would distribute the second tranche of cash aid “at the soonest time possible.”
Corrupt local execs face jail time
After some Quezon City barangay officials and employees were accused of misappropriating the SAP, Roque assured that Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) will see to it that those proven guilty will be sent behind bars.
“Kinakailangang ikulong sila nang maturuan ng leksiyon na huwag pong kanain ang ayuda na nakalaan para sa pinakamahihirap sa ating lipunan (They should go to jail to learn a lesson and they should stop stealing the cash aid intended for the poorest in our society),” he said.
The Quezon City government has commenced a full-blown investigation into the actions of certain barangay officials and employees who have allegedly abused their power in the distribution of the SAP cash aid.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said those found guilty may face administrative and criminal charges “for violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Falsification, Fraud Against the Public Treasury, Malversation and Robbery’’ in relation to anomalies in the distribution of the cash aid under the SAP.
Last week, Roque announced that Duterte would give a PHP30,000 cash reward to each individual who can name public officials involved in the anomalous distribution of emergency subsidies.
Roque, meanwhile, was saddened by reports that social distancing protocols were not observed while qualified residents in Barangay Pag-asa, Quezon City were queuing up for the first tranche of the cash aid program.
“Nakakalungkot po may mga report na ganito na sa pagbibigay ng ayuda ay baka lalo pang maraming magkasakit dahil hindi sila nag-social distancing (It is sad to hear reports that this is the way cash aid is being distributed because more people might get sick because they’re not observing social distancing),” he said.
Roque reminded the public to continue to observe social distancing at all times, even after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and areas high-risk of Covid-19 infection lapses on May 15.
“Kinakailangan pong mag-ingat tayo dahil ang ibig sabihin lang ng pagbaba ng ECQ sa GCQ, mayroon pa rin pong banta hindi lang ganoon katindi (We still need to be careful because lowering the ECQ to general community quarantine means that there is still a threat, it’s just not as serious),” he said.
Despite being under GCQ, Roque said there is no chance to go back to normal unless a vaccine for Covid-19 is developed. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)