Updated: Jan 15
Social Welfare Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin assured the public of the government's desire to resolve all issues regarding the distribution of funds for the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), an emergency assistance measure, being implemented by the government under RA 11469, the Bayanihan to Heal as One law.
Undersecretary Gudmalin made the assurance during MedNet’s second Bridges session on 29 September 2020 where he was the main guest, as he urged the people to remain vigilant in asserting their right to government assistance.
Under RA 11469, the government has allotted about Php206 billion for poor beneficiaries that include displaced workers and other sectors. The bulk of the beneficiaries are households that are not enrolled in the 4Ps or conditional cash transfer program. The SAP is being implemented in two phases.
The first SAP tranche, which has a budget of about Php206 billion, is now more than 99 percent complete, while the distribution of the second tranche has already started in June. The Duterte government has assured that the distribution of aid would continue even after the expiration of RA 11469.
Undersecretary Gudmalin said that the confusion concerning the SAP allocation and disbursement was largely caused by the lack of understanding of the mechanics and magnitude of the problem of SAP distribution and disbursement.
Under the two-tier Bayanihan Act 1, some Php206 Billion was allocated for the distribution of SAP, which is jointly implemented by many other government agencies. The first tranche had been distributed to almost 18 million Filipino families, or more than 99 percent of all eligible beneficiaries.
According to Undersecretary Gudmalin, the main factor that contributed to the delay and problems in the SAP funds distribution was the failure of the local governments to complete the encoding and weed out double entries of SAP beneficiaries.
Some entries were either wrong or incomplete. More than a million duplicate entries were found. Some listed as eligible beneficiaries turned out to be ineligible later. There were also problems in locating some beneficiaries.
Many other discrepancies forced the Department of Social Welfare and Development to put the beneficiaries in a waiting list pending validation and resolution of issues in their listing. Some anomalies in the distribution were also discovered.
Additional causes of delays included the nationwide coverage of Bayanihan Law, and that 500 DSWD personnel were infected with COVID-19, and thousands more were put under quarantine.
Undersecretary Gudmalin expressed hope that there would be a better implementation of RA 11494, or Bayanihan 2 law, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Duterte on 11 September 2020. It provides a Php165.5 billion fund, including Php140 billion in regular appropriation with Php25.5 billion in standby funds. It is practically the third tranche of assistance from government, to be implemented by a higher number of government agencies.
Aside from providing assistance to displaced farmers and workers, jeepney and tricycle drivers, indigenous peoples, and other poor sectors, the new law will finance several government programs such as improvement of health care resources, cash-for-work program, agriculture support, assistance to industries affected by the pandemic, and procurement of coronavirus vaccines. Bayanihan 2 is expected to help strengthen the health sector and revitalize the country’s growth.
Several government agencies will co-implement the Bayanihan 2 law, based on their respective mandates. Undersecretary Gudmalin said 20 million families will benefit from the law, based on data provided by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Employment, Social Security System, among others. All data they provided were certified and validated jointly with local government units.