SOCIAL AMELIORATION. Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries observe social distancing as they get their monthly allowance from a Landbank ATM. The DSWD along with its partner agencies vowed to provide cash assistance to low-income families affected by the month-long enhanced community quarantine in Luzon via the Social Amelioration program. (Photo courtesy of DSWD)

MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has assured assistance to 18 million low-income households affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

“The aid will be given [to those] called poor, they are those who are low income, those who are not earning at all, ‘no-work, no-pay’ scheme, walang pension (without pensions), walang benefits (without benefits),” DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said in a Laging Handa press briefing on Saturday.

The DSWD along with its partner agencies -- the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Budget and Management, and Department of the Interior and Local Government -- have come out with the “Social Amelioration” program.

To date, the DSWD has used its existing “listahanan” database to identify conditional cash transfer program Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s) beneficiaries to determine those who will receive financial support ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000.

“The Department of Finance computed the maximum subsidy per region, the wage level to identify how much will be given to each qualified household to afford basic food, medicine, and other necessities,” Dumlao added.

She also clarified that the financial support from the new program is different from the existing aid received by 4P’s beneficiaries.

However, beneficiaries will get a “top-up to reach the PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 benefit”.

This effort is separate from the existing programs rolled out by the local government units (LGUs) as their calamity assistance to the residents in need.

Cash cards will be distributed to the beneficiaries for convenience and safer transactions.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases technical working group, chaired by the DSWD, is tasked to ensure the effective implementation of the program.

The creation of the program came after the landmark “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” that granted President Rodrigo Duterte more powers to implement measures to fight the coronavirus spread.

Republic Act No. 11469, the Bayanihan measure, will be in effect upon publication and shall remain in force for three months unless extended by Congress.

Last week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the measure amid the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak in the country.

The new law declares the existence of a national emergency arising from the coronavirus situation, as well as authorizes the President for a limited period and subject to restrictions, to exercise powers necessary and proper to deal with the pandemic. (PNA)