MANILA – An official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Monday the stringent validation process of local government units (LGUs) in determining eligible beneficiaries caused major delays in the distribution of the Covid-19 financial aid.

During a House hearing on the issues hounding the distribution of the first tranche of the government’s social amelioration program (SAP), DSWD Undersecretary Danilo Pamonag said the delay caused by the validation process was further amplified by the grievances received from waitlisted families.

“Given the novelty of this emergency, accompanied by the need for immediate action on the part of the government, the enactment of the social amelioration program is not without challenges,” Pamonag said.

He said the other challenges encountered by the agency include mobility constraints to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, as well as the exposure of SAP implementers to health risks.

“The SAP implementers had a difficult time in delivering the subsidy in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas particularly in the island municipalities and barangays, which need sea and air transportation support in order to distribute cash aid,” Pamonag said.

“In connection to this, the need for SAP implementers… to observe the 14-day quarantine once exposed to probable and suspected Covid-19 cases caused the postponement of the actual delivery of the subsidy,” he added.

He also noted that the presence of security threats posed by rebels led to the postponement of scheduled distribution of emergency subsidy.

“Also, threats and intimidation from disgruntled individuals caused fears among SAP implementers and hindered the smooth distribution of SAP subsidy,” he said.

He reported that the DSWD has provided a subsidy to 17.6 million families for the first tranche of SAP, utilizing a total of PHP99.6 billion.

Additionally, around 1,560 out of 1,634 LGUs have attained 100-percent accomplishment in their payouts.

Pamonag said the DSWD also conducts post-validation by reviewing the eligibility checks based on grievances received, as well as checking duplication through the cross-matching of databases of SAP-implementing agencies.

Initiatives for 2nd tranche of SAP

Pamonag said around five million waitlisted or “left out” families will be included in the second tranche of the SAP, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 23 million families.

“With the numerous grievances received by the DSWD, the inclusion of waitlisted, also known as left out, families in the second tranche was advocated by the department,” he said.

In order to further facilitate efficient distribution of SAP, he said the DSWD partnered with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, USAID, and Developers Connect Philippines to launch the ReliefAgad application, which will expedite the capture of SAP data and enable faster cash relief to targeted beneficiaries.

The department will also tap the method for digital payments to aid in the distribution of SAP through contactless transactions.

“We are anticipating that the conduct of payouts shall be amplified in the following days through house-to-house distribution, premium payouts, and digital platforms,” he said. (PNA)