DSWD to LGUs: Distribute emergency subsidy first, validation later

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has amended its emergency subsidy program (ESP) guidelines to speed up the distribution of cash aid to families in need.

Under the amended guidelines, beneficiaries will receive the cash aid first, and the DSWD will carry out the validation process later.

In an announcement on Thursday, April 16, the DSWD said delays caused by the validation process prompted the agency to amend its guidelines.

"Under the amended measure, validation of beneficiaries will be conducted after the payout of the subsidies. Thus, local government units (LGUs) may proceed with the distribution of the cash aid within 24 hours upon receipt of the funds from the DSWD," the statement read.

The DSWD would conduct validation within 15 days from the  receipt of documents from the LGUs that support the completion of the emergency cash aid distribution.

"The validation is vital to detect the duplication of assistance and to ascertain the eligibility of the beneficiaries," the DSWD said.

Qualified ESP beneficiaries will receive P5,000 to P8,000 a month for April and May. DSWD Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin said that if duplicates are found in the April reports of LGUs, then the concerned families will no longer be given a subsidy for May. 

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the government is mandated to provide financial aid to 18 million poor families further affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The beneficiares are based from the 15 million families included in the DSWD's 2015 Listahanan – the department's data collection system that identifies the poorest households in the country. The DSWD added 3 million "as a projection of population growth" to come up with 18 million families in total.

For families that are deemed eligible but were not included in the DSWD's list, the DSWD asked LGUs on Wednesday to use their own budgets to provide them aid.

DSWD chief Rolando Bautista earlier acknowledged "gaps and shortcomings" in the implementation of the emergency subsidy program. (READ: Duterte chaos leaves barangay officials 'helpless' amid lockdown)

Bautista disclosed that around 80% of LGUs nationwide have received the emergency funds from the DSWD as of Thursday.

The Philippines is under a state of calamity due to the coronavirus outbreak. Luzon is under enhanced community quarantine until April 30, while other parts of the country have also implemented lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.