People claiming financial aid for their households will be allowed to leave their homes even if they do not have quarantine passes, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Wednesday.
“In case the designated representative of the family does not have a quarantine pass, our police officers will consider that,” Eleazar said. “We will… be lenient, once they say they will get their financial aid, so they can proceed to the distribution centers.”
Eleazar said these persons will also be allowed to buy essential goods after claiming their financial aid.
Police officers have been deployed to aid distribution centers in Metro Manila to prevent super spreader events for COVID-19.
“We have already coordinated with the local government units of Metro Manila in this regard. Our focus is to ensure an orderly distribution of cash assistance because they also have to be protected from the coronavirus infection,” Eleazar said.
Meanwhile, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Israel Dickson said the first day of the distribution of financial aid across Metro Manila was peaceful and orderly.
Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from Aug. 6 to 20 to arrest the further spread of COVID-19, caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The national government has released almost P11 billion to assist low-income families that would be affected by the lockdown.
Each qualified resident in NCR may receive cash assistance worth P1,000 or a maximum of P4,000 per household.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday said there will be no delay in the distribution of cash assistance to low-income families in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“As agreed with the Metro Manila Council, all local government units (LGUs) in the NCR will be starting their Ayuda II distribution today (Wednesday), including the City of Manila,” DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a news release.
He said that the DILG and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will supervise the start of the cash aid distribution in the city of Manila to ensure the orderly conduct of payout activities in the city.
Malaya said officials and representatives of the DILG, DSWD, and the Department of National Defense (DND) led by DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista spearheaded the ceremonial distribution of the cash aid at the Jose Abad Santos High School in Binondo, Manila at 9:30 a.m.
He said additional personnel from the DSWD and the DILG have been deployed in all distribution sites in the city of Manila to supervise the payout of the Manila Department of Social Welfare and ensure the orderly and systematic distribution of the cash assistance.
In other LGUs, representatives of national government agencies that are members of the Joint Monitoring and Inspection Committee will also be present in all distribution points to monitor the distribution.
A congressional leader on Wednesday proposed the creation of online grievance desks to handle complaints and concerns regarding the disbursement of cash aid from the national government.
Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, chairman of the House social welfare committee, said this would minimize physical contact especially in view of the highly-contagious nature of the Delta variant.
At the same time, Vargas lauded the move of Quezon City and other local governments to post the list of cash aid recipients on its official Facebook account.
“This innovative approach will definitely help eliminate the need for people to go to the disbursement centers and undergo a tedious process of verification. This is usually where the unnecessary crowding begins. I hope other LGUs will do what Mayor Joy Belmonte has done,” he said.
Vaegas noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and several local governments have set up grievance mechanisms to deal with issues regarding the cash aid.
“But in the interest of the health and safety of the beneficiaries, it would be best if we have grievance desks online to reduce if not eliminate the need to be physically present to file a complaint or grievance,” he said.
Vargas said the DSWD and the LGUs can open special sections in their Facebook and other social media accounts to receive and reply to grievances.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, called on the national government to stop undermining the autonomy of local government units.
“Let us remember that our LGUs are the redeeming factor in this fight, especially against the new variants of COVID-19,” she said
“Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the administration, which has been remiss in its duties to serve the people,” she added.
The opposition senator criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for harassing an unnamed Metro Manila mayor, widely believed to be Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
Hontiveros also called on the administration to rationalize the distribution of vaccines, especially to LGUs ready to receive and administer shots among their constituents and where cases are higher.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said big cities like Manila have the “boots on the ground and the muscle memory” to conduct large scale distribution of aid, whether in cash or in kind.
He said understaffed national agencies would find it difficult to do the complex operations on their own.
“The best is still a bayanihan between the local and national governments,” Recto said.
He added that it is irrational for the central government to “nationalize an activity” that is best done with local government participation.
Recto’s comments come on the heels of the national government’s decision to take over the distribution of aid in Manila.
“The City of Manila has been delivering almost a million boxes of food to the homes of their residents for some months. They have the organization and the method. Then you’re going to change this?” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Manila, he added, built a 344-bed field hospital in seven weeks, something the Department of Health has not been able to do.
“If Manila was able to pull off these big ticket projects, then distributing aid to its own people is just another day in the office for them,” Recto said.
In Quezon City, Mayor Joy Belmonte urged residents who want to claim financial aid during the two-week lockdown to review the list of beneficiaries posted by the city government.
“Please take a look at the official social media page of the city government and your barangay for the list of your names. This is where you could see the information about the time and venue of the aid distribution as well as the requirements needed to claim it,” she said.