Senate and Congress granted President Duterte powers to respond to the COViD 19 pandemic threatening our country. To carry out these powers, the president signed into law Republic Act 11469 known as “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” declaring the existence of a national emergency situation arising from the Corona Virus Disease 2019, and for a limited period granting the president powers necessary and proper to carry out the declared national policy. The Bayanihan Heal as One act was signed into law by the president last March 24, 2020.
By March 30, 2020 the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued Memorandum Circular No.: 2020 -065 setting guidelines for local government units in the provision of social amelioration measures by the national government to THE MOST AFFECTED residents of the areas under enhanced community quarantine. This memorandum was based on the following:
Article 2,Sections 4,5,9 and 15 of the 1987 Constitution,
RA 11469 – Bayanihan Heal as One Act,
Presidential proclamation No. 922, issued on March 8, 2020 declaring a state of public health emergency through out the Philippines, and
Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2020 by the DILG, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Finance (DOF), out lining guidelines for the provision of social amelioration programs to the most affected residents of the areas under enhanced community quarantine due to the COViD 19 pandemic.
These guidelines laid down the requirement for local government units to identify all target beneficiaries of the social amelioration measures within their area of jurisdiction and to provide to the implementing national government agency a master list of their target beneficiaries not later than April 3, 2020. To ensure fast submission, local government units are required to submit their list to the relevant government agency. Local government units are further instructed not to require a voters ID in identifying target beneficiaries.
The memorandum clearly delegates the identification of target beneficiaries to cities and municipalities, and giving barangay officials the responsibility of issuing necessary certifications and clearances to target beneficiaries.
The joint memorandum circular issued together by various national government agencies show that the social amelioration program is to be carried out by several government agencies, in coordination with local government units led by the mayors of each one.
Last April 2, 2020 the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released a summarized presentation on the procedures to be followed in processing the social amelioration measures target beneficiaries by local government units. The presentation consolidated the details coming from the republic act, the DILG guidelines and the joint memorandum circular into a digestible format.
The process flow presented the roles that each government agency plays in delivering the social amelioration measures for the most affected residents in areas under ECQ. The document indicated that each family will only have at least 1 affected member belonging to a vulnerable or disadvantaged sector, identified as: Informal economy workers, Homeless and underprivileged, Indigent Indigenous Peoples, Solo Parents, Senior Citizens, Person with Disability and Pregnant Women. Each potential target beneficiary will be required to fill up a form (at least 2 copies), that will be provided by the DSWD, which will have to be reproduced by the local government unit.
The social amelioration program is for these disadvantaged persons coming from households that are poor or low income in the informal sector. So indigenous peoples, solo parents, senior citizens, persons with disability and pregnant women who are NOT POOR and have an income greater than P15,000 a month DO NOT QUALIFY as target beneficiaries in this program. In fact, the program is only for the 17,956,093 million households that have been classified by government data as “poor and low income”, with a budget of Php97,702,683,300; which is only equal to Php5,441,19 per household for 2 months (if all will qualify).
The following government agencies are tasked in providing relief for the relevant poor and low-income households:
DOLE – TUPAD #BKBK, CAMP; DA – Cash Assistance for rice farmers, DTI – moratorium on loan payments of small business corporation borrowers, Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso – Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the (named Covid19 P3-ERF); DSWD – 4Ps, Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), Livelihood Assistance Grants (LAG).
DILG coordinates all of the activities under these various agencies, to ensure that local government units who are interested in availing of the social amelioration program under the “Bayanihan Heal as One” act are able to accomplish the needed requirements.
The DSWD has been given the mandate of getting into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Local Chief Executive of the local government unit that will access funds through the social amelioration program. This means that ONLY LGUs who will execute a MOA with the DSWD can access the program.
Before the MOA is entered into by the DSWD and the LGU, a list of potential beneficiaries has to be submitted to the DSWD field offices. The field office has to ensure that 4Ps beneficiaries are NOT INCLUDED in the list (they already received assistance from the national government). They also ensure that the beneficiaries belong to the disadvantaged sector. The final list will be given to the LGU, from which the LGU will submit a budget proposal to the field office. The approved proposal will serve as basis for the fund transfer. This proposal will also serve as basis for the MOA between the LGU and DSWD. After the MOA is signed, the LGU will facilitate the delivery of funds or goods or a combination of funds and goods to the target beneficiaries. Funds may be transferred through cash cards, while goods will be delivered to the identified beneficiaries.
The amount of subsidy that each beneficiary will receive will depend on the daily minimum wage of the region where the beneficiary resides. The subsidy amount per month for Mindanao is as follows: Region 10 and 11 – P6,000; Region 12, CARAGA and BARMM – P5,000.
The number of potential beneficiaries for Mindanao Regions and the budget for each region is shown in the table below:
The process flow set by the national government in providing social amelioration support for the most affected poor families all over the Philippine in general, and Mindanao in particular clearly shows the delivery of much need support will take time. Availing of these much needed support clearly dependent on the identification of potential target beneficiaries by the local government units who are willing to go into a memorandum of agreement with the DSWD. These beneficiaries have to be cleared by DSWD before a budget can be determined for each LGU. The budget will be accessed through various fund sources coming from different national government agencies.At a time of a national crisis, time is of the essence. The role of elected officials from the city / municipality and the barangays is crucial. Their utmost cooperation is a requirement. As Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon stated- “the COViD 19 pandemic is a litmus test for all mayors”. I might as well include – voters will be made to realize that their decision on election day will affect their lives BIG TIME. Elect a local thief, you go hungry – NOT the President, governor, mayor, councilor or barangay captain but YOU the voter!