CASH ASSISTANCE. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with some government officials at the Malacañan Palace on Monday (Dec. 27, 2021). Duterte promised to give PHP5,000 to indigent families affected by Typhoon Odette. (Presidential photo by King Rodriguez)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged PHP5,000 for indigent families affected by Typhoon Odette that devastated several provinces including in the Visayas and Mindanao on December 16.

In a prerecorded public address aired Monday night, Duterte said the government has gathered enough funds to distribute cash aid.

“I'm giving PHP5,000 per family...the money that I have gathered so far would be sufficient for the assistance of PHP5,000 for everybody,” he said.

He also vowed to revisit areas ravaged by Typhoon Odette, to assess relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts of the government.

Duterte previously visited Maasin, Leyte; Inabanga, Bohol; Argao, Cebu; and Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island to meet local officials and personally distribute relief assistance to those displaced by the typhoon.

“Babalikan ko 'yung lugar na tinatamaan (I will return to typhoon-hit areas),” he said.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, for his part, said the national government is currently identifying families who are qualified as beneficiaries of a PHP5,000 cash aid promised by Duterte.

“As reported by [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director] USec [Ricardo] Jalad a while ago, they are conducting meetings with the [Office of the Civil Defense], [Department of National Defense], [Department of the Interior and Local Government], [Department of Social Welfare and Development], and [Department of Budget and Management] to determine kung sino-sino yung mga (which) families that will benefit from the cash assistance to be given from the national government,” he said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday.

Nograles said the cash aid for typhoon-hit families will follow a scheme similar to the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) financial aid given to low-income families to help them cope with lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“So the same setup, yung parang nasabing SAP setup natin ngayon. ‘Yun po yung naiisip natin gawin para naman sa mga biktima ng Bagyong Odette (it’s like the SAP setup we have now. That is our plan for victims of Typhoon Odette),” he added.

He said the DBM is currently in the process of looking for sources to fund the cash aid for typhoon victims.

“Ang promise po is that by tomorrow, mada-download na po ang funds (Our promise is that by tomorrow, the funds can be downloaded). So within the day, importante na maidentify na po yung mga families na mabibigyan ng (it is important to identify the families that will be given) cash assistance—these are severely affected families,” he said.

Aside from the PHP5,000 cash aid, Duterte previously directed the National Housing Authority (NHA) to provide PHP100 million worth of assistance to residents whose shelters were partially or totally destroyed by the typhoon.

He said this fund would help expedite the reconstruction of houses and clearing operations in typhoon-hit areas. (PNA)