Pasig City to cover poor families not on DSWD emergency subsidy list

MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig City government will subsidize more than 100,000 poor families who were cut from the national government's list of beneficiaries in its emergency subsidy program for the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Vico Sotto said on Sunday, April 12.

From an original estimate of 206,000 Pasigueño families eligible for emergency subsidy from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), only 93,000 were approved by the DSWD and the Department of Finance.

Those 93,000 Pasigueño families on the DSWD list will each receive P8,000 for two months, for a total assistance package of P16,000, Sotto said in a social media video.

Worried that the exclusion of the other 113,000 families – or even more, as Sotto said there could be a total of up to 260,000 indigent families in Pasig – may cause unrest, the local government will roll out its own supplemental program to fill the gap.

"Lahat ng nangangailangan na wala sa listahan ng DSWD, sasaluhin po ng lokal na pamahalaan ng Pasig," Sotto said. (All those not on the DSWD's list will be covered by the local government of Pasig.)

Sotto said the city government is studying its cash position, and it is looking at giving the excluded families a single handout of P8,000.

Pasig City is unable to match the P16,000 the national government will be giving out, but Sotto said the local government will try its best to give the excluded beneficiaries the highest amount possible.

"Maghahanap po tayo ng pondo para makapag-realign po tayo. 'Yung mga pera ng Pasig na nasa trust fund, ilalabas po natin (We will look for funds that we can realign. The money in Pasig's trust fund, we will take that out)," Sotto said, adding that this move would require the city council's concurrence.

The program will be difficult, and he will discuss how to go about the distribution with barangay officials, the mayor said.

"Magsasakripisyo tayo. Maghihigpit tayo ng sinturon. May mga ibang proyekto na ika-cancel muna natin…. Wala tayong choice dahil ayaw po nating magutom 'yung mga kababayan natin," he added.

(We will make sacrifices. We will tighten our belts. There are projects that we will cancel for now.... We have no choice because we don't want our neighbors to starve.)

Sotto said the national government is working with data from 2015. A census scheduled for early 2020 has been called off because of the pandemic. This is why the Pasig government estimates the total number of indigent families exceeds 203,000.

The DSWD is looking to subsidize a total of 18 million families across the country – 3 million more than the 15 million based on data from 2015. The agency said on Monday, April 13, that families cut from its list may lodge an appeal with local social welfare offices or local government units.

"Magpasalamat pa rin tayo sa nasyonal na pamahalaan natin. Magpasalamat po tayo sa DSWD dahil napakalaking tulong po nito. Malaking tulong po talaga," Sotto told his constituents.

(Let's still thank our national government. Let's thank the DSWD because this is a big help. A really big help.)

The Pasig government is not the only one rolling out a supplemental subsidy program, added Sotto, saying he knows of other local governments making similar plans.

Pasig City, along with the rest of Luzon island, will remain on lockdown until April 30 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.

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