77% of 11.5 million beneficiaries get 2nd tranche of COVID-19 aid

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu – Reporter / @GabrielLaluINQ

Only 8.979 million families — or 77 percent — of 11.5 million beneficiaries have received the second tranch of social aid for those affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns, a month after the government started its distribution.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in their latest update on Monday that the amount disbursed under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) amounted to P58.5 billion.

This distribution should have been finished by the end of May. But after some delays, the DSWD set an 80 percent target by the end of July.

However, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao clarified that the goal actually was to finish the payout by the middle of August in some areas.

“As we have earlier communicated, we aim to meet 80% accomplishment by July 31.  But in some areas, our goal is to complete payout by the middle of August,” she told reporters.

The SAP, mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020, was intended to aid 18 million Filipino families affected by the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon and other areas due to the pandemic.

After the lockdowns necessitated work suspensions, a lot of people who relied on daily earnings and whose jobs could not be done under a work-from-home scheme were left without any income.

The first tranche started last April, and the second tranche was expected to start by May, as the SAP was meant to be given monthly based on the monthly minimum wage in a particular area.

However, DSWD insisted on validating the recipients of the first tranche before releasing the subsequent aid.

As a result, the government only started distributing the SAP by the end of June — when Metro Manila and most areas were already under a general community quarantine, with people allowed to return back to work again.

Recently, there were calls to provide a third SAP tranche after Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna were placed under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) again due to the continued rise of COVID-19 cases.

Malacañang earlier said that the distribution of a third tranche is up to Congress — leading some labor groups to question whether the MECQ would just put workers at greater risk.

The total number of COVID-19 cases nationwide is still increasing at an alarming rate, with the number of infected people now at 106,330 after the Department of Health reported 3,226 cases on Monday.

Of the total, 2,104 have died while 65,821 have recovered.

/atm

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