DSWD: Families not on emergency subsidy list can appeal

Families who are in need but were not included in the list of target beneficiaries of the government's emergency subsidy program (ESP) can file an appeal, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced on Monday, April 13.

Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the government is mandated to give financial aid to 18 million poor and vulnerable families through the ESP.

DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the 18-million count is based on the 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.

But reports have surfaced that the number of target beneficiaries per locality does not reconcile with the actual number of families in need. Local government units (LGUs) struggle to attend to these families when resources are limited and slow to arrive. (READ: Duterte chaos leaves barangay officials 'helpless' amid lockdown)

With this, the DSWD responded by saying that additional families qualified for the emergency subsidy that were not included in the initial count can appeal with local social welfare and development offices through their LGUs to receive aid. This is called their "grievance redress mechanism."

Families can course appeals through 24/7 hotline number 16545 within 3 days from the start of payouts in their respective barangays. 

"The DSWD Central Office - Operations Center shall receive complaints and ensure proper referencing and reporting to concerned offices for validation and/or investigation. The concerned office is required to respond to the said report within 24 hours from receipt," the DSWD said in an April 24 press release.

"Inaasahan ng DSWD na tataas pa ang bilang ng beneficiaries na makakatanggap ng [subsidy] dahil tuloy-tuloy ang ginagawang payouts...ng field offices kasama ang iba't ibang LGUs," said Dumlao.

(The DSWD expects to see the number of beneficiaries increase because field offices are continuously conducting payouts along with the LGUs.)

Dumlao said DSWD field offices will validate if additional families are truly qualified. The department would then coordinate with economic managers to sort out budgeting matters.

In the meantime, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said LGUs should first give food packs to the excluded families while they wait for financial assistance.

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista earlier admitted the implementation of the ESP has had "gaps and shortcomings." The government allotted P200 billion for the program from April to May.

Can the amount budgeted for each family be divided to accommodate more? The amount that would be given to each family per region is set based on the minimum wage. Dumlao said the DSWD discourages dividing the subsidy because these respective amounts per region were studied and deemed appropriate based on what one family needs to get by for one month.

Dumlao reiterated that excluded families should instead file appeals to receive subsidies.

The DSWD said that to date, P80 billion of the P100-billion fund for the month of April has been transmitted to the department's field offices. Of this, more than 50% have been transmitted to LGUs.

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.

As of Sunday, April 12, confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines are at 4,648, with 297 deaths and 197 recoveries. – 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.

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