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Use bottom-up approach, cover more beneficiaries of cash aid —senators

The executive branch should reconcile the disparities between the number of beneficiaries estimated by the national government and the list provided by the local government units in order to address the complaints on the distribution of emergency cash aid, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday.

"The gap averages at least 40% nationwide. A bottom-up approach should be adopted instead of a top-down method subject of course to validation by the national agencies concerned," Lacson said in a message to reporters.

He stressed that the local governments' community-based surveys are "more accurate and updated."

Lacson also believes that it is better to temporarily tweak the amount of the first tranche of cash aid to cover all those who are qualified.

"It is better to adjust the average amount to be distributed rather than neglect the 40% that cannot be accommodated, then realign more funds even from the other items from the 2019 unused appropriations to compensate for the difference in the next round," he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also called for the expanded coverage of the emergency assistance which was intended for 18 million low-income households nationwide.

"We should increase the number of families receiving financial aid from national government by at least 30%," Recto said in a separate message.

"[It] will be easier to implement and apolitical," he added.

Recto said the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act need not be amended if such adjustments will be implemented.

Under the said law, the President is authorized to realign budget and provide P5,000 to P8,000 cash assistance to poor Filipino families whose incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 situation nationwide.

The senators made the suggestions to the executive officials after some local government leaders raised the issue on the limited "quotas" or number of families that can be covered by the subsidy in their jurisdictions. Some said that other needy families will be left out if the tally from the national government will be followed.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he hopes the issue will be addressed in President Rodrigo Duterte's second report to Congress this Monday. —LDF, GMA News