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Metro mayors ask DSWD, DOF to use original number of beneficiaries for cash aid

The Metro Manila Council on Tuesday appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Finance (DOF) to reinstate the original number of target beneficiaries of the 17 Metro Manila local government units for the distribution of the social amelioration program.

In a resolution, all 17 mayors agreed Metro Manila has the biggest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases nationwide as well as the “highest number of adversely-affected daily wage earners and numerous extended/multiple families per household by region.”

The mayors made the resolution after hundreds of thousands of families in the metropolis have so far been left out of the cash subsidy.

According to Mav Gonzales report on “24 Oras,” aside from the lack of budget, there have also been discrepancies in the data of the DSWD and the LGUs.

Eighteen million families were intended to receive financial assistance under the government's social amelioration program. However, the DOF said the number was based on the DSWD's 2015 data.

“It was computer-cased on DSWD’s 2015 listahan, which is a survey of low-income households and adjusted upwards for population growth,” DOF assistant secretary Tony Lambino said.

With this, various LGUs raised the issue on the limited number of families that can be covered by the subsidy in their jurisdictions.

Some lamented that only less than half of their beneficiaries were able to receive the P5,000 to P8,000 cash aid.

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier called on the executive branch to reconcile the disparities between the number of beneficiaries estimated by the national government and the list provided by the LGU in order to address complaints on the distribution of the aid.

"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.

He stressed that the LGU’s community-based surveys are more accurate and updated.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, said the enforcement of the national ID system would solve the discrepancies between the beneficiary databases of the national government and the LGUs.

"This amelioration program rolls out for two months and might extend to three. The national ID system has been there since over a year ago. Fast break nila, otherwise hanggang next month magulo pa rin," he said.

Meanwhile, DSWD secretary Rolando Bautista acknowledged that more than 18 million families are in need of emergency cash aid in the unprecedented situation, however no data is available as of present time.

“Kasi kailangang i-validate din itong mga sinasabi ng LGU na nadagdagan o naging mahirap kasi ang danger if syempre baka ‘yong ibang nasa formal sector ay makasama,” Bautista said.

Under the social amelioration program of the DSWD, assistance will be given to low-income households, including senior citizens, persons with a disability, single parents, overseas Filipinos in distress, and pregnant mothers. —Ma. Angelica Garcia/LDF, GMA News