Senator Sonny Angara has called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to find ways to give cash grants and other aid to families now being affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
At this time when almost all businesses have closed and the movement of people is restricted due to the enhanced community quarantine being enforced to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Angara said “people are becoming desperate and in need of assurance from its government that they will be taken care of.”
“We must ensure the uninterrupted implementation of programs such as the 4Ps.”
“We must ensure the uninterrupted implementation of programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which are even more critical to marginalized families at this time when most likely some, if not all, of their members are not being paid any wages,” the veteran legislator said.
Under the 2020 General Appropriations Act, a total of P108.765 billion was allocated to the DSWD for the 4Ps program.
The 4Ps involves the provision of cash grants to the poorest of the poor amounting to P1,350 (health and nutrition and rice subsidy) per family per month plus P300/month/child attending day care or primary school; P500/month/child for junior high school; and P700/month/child attending senior high school. This will serve 4.4 million households nationwide.
Apart from the 4Ps, the DSWD also provides social pension to indigent seniors (P23.184 billion under the 2020 GAA) and unconditional cash transfer (P36.488 billion).
Under the social pension to indigent seniors program, indigent senior citizens receive a monthly stipend of P500.
With the unconditional cash transfer program, poor households are provided with P300 per month in cash grants to cushion the impact of rising prices of goods and commodities.
Recognizing the challenges in the delivery of these benefits to the beneficiaries during the quarantine period, the seasoned lawmaker urged the DSWD to coordinate closely with the local government units, who have been undertaking their own initiatives to deliver food and other assistance to their constituents while they are quarantined inside their homes.
“Marami na sa ating LGUs are nagdo-door-to-door sa paghatid ng pagkain at iba pang benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan na nangangailangan ng tulong sa panahon na ito. Pwede itong gamitin ng DSWD para maihatid ang ayuda sa mga family beneficiaries, lalo na yung wala pang EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) cards,” the senator said.
“Wag din natin kakalimutan ang mga tsuper ng jeep, tricycle at taxi na matindi din ang naging tama ng quarantine at walang ibang pinagkukuhanan ng kita para sa kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.
Under Section 87 of the general provisions of the 2020 GAA on the implementation of nationally-funded projects, “the national government may designate LGUs as implementing agencies” for projects, services and other programs appropriated in this Act of agencies, including the DSWD.
With no alternative income or savings to go to, Angara said the poor families have no means to purchase food, which is why it is even more important for the national government to work with the LGUs in ensuring they have meals every day.
“Setting up of community soup kitchens should be considered for all the areas under quarantine.”
He said the setting up of community soup kitchens, just like what some LGUs have already done, should be considered for all the areas under quarantine.
These cooked meals can either be delivered to the households door-to-door or people can congregate in small controlled batches, based on the discretion of the LGUs concerned.
“We need to look after the welfare of our people in these very challenging times. A significant portion of our population relies heavily on the government to give them support. We must make them see and feel that they are being cared for. We must find ways to help. They are the ones who need it the most now,” Angara concluded.