"How can the DSWD and DILG officials allow this deplorable mess to happen again?"
We understand that the main reasons for the delays in the arrival of vaccines from abroad are beyond the control of the government, with wealthy and powerful countries cornering the supply of manufactured vaccines.
Vaccine makers do not consider the Philippines a priority customer even as we expect more deliveries coming our way within the next few weeks.
Hopefully, the vaccination rollout will curb the surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in Metro Manila and nearby Luzon provinces.
What is most distressful and lamentable is the repeated aggravation of poor Filipinos over the chaotic distribution of the government cash aid in the NCR Plus areas subjected to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for two weeks.
President Duterte had assured that individuals are to receive P1,000 cash aid while low-income families get P4,000 each.
Unfortunately for our poor kababayans who were displaced from their low-paying jobs or livelihood due to lockdown and curfew, the same problems have delayed the distribution of the said social amelioration program (SAP) cash.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the local government units (LGUs) and barangay officials are again pointing fingers at each other for the delay just like inefficient, chaotic and corruption-ridden SAP cash distribution last year.
The cash aid currently being given out is reportedly sourced from Bayanihan 2 which, for unclear reasons, were not distributed completely while many impoverished Filipinos did not receive anything.
Again, we witnessed the agonizing ordeal of our poor kababayans, including senior citizens, being treated like paupers and beggars at crowded barangay halls and basketball courts.
How can the DSWD and DILG officials allow this deplorable mess to happen again?
I have received hundreds of complaints in my radio program, Tutok Erwin Tulfo, from supposed beneficiaries of the government cash assistance for the NCR Plus area residents.
President Duterte, in his televised cabinet meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) last week, clearly assured the viewers that each person affected by the ECQ would get P1,000 and P4,000 for a low-income family of four or more.
According to numerous complaints, there are cases where families were given only P1,000 or P2,000, arbitrarily decided by barangay officials.
What’s worse, many residents qualified for the cash aid are reportedly not even on the list of beneficiaries.
LGUs have blamed the DSWD for failure to send the correct lists of beneficiaries.
DSWD officials however point to the barangay officials for submitting defective lists.
These DSWD and LGU officials must realize the extreme economic hardship poor Filipinos are experiencing because of restrictions during lockdowns, rendering them unable to make a living.
Many Filipinos are practically dying of hunger while many government officials in non-essential government agencies now practically enjoy a paid vacation, not having to worry about their salaries and benefits with much less work to perform.
It is disheartening to hear that the same “irregularities” are happening in the distribution of Special Risk Allowance, hazard pay, meal and accommodation allowances of healthcare workers.
The Alliance of Healthcare Workers (AHW) had to write an open letter to the President asking for help in getting the said benefits and allowances.
AHW President Robert Mendoza also disclosed that some public hospital officials have asked healthcare workers to use their face masks for “three days” instead of only eight hours.
Small wonder that thousands of healthcare workers contract COVID-19 owing to the low health standards at public hospitals.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega clarified that Bayanihan 2 funds—to the tune of P256 million—have been downloaded to the hospitals.
Vega said hospital directors are responsible for distributing the benefits and allowances to their healthcare workers.
We need not overemphasize the sacrifices of healthcare workers in the frontline of war versus COVID-19, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Like DSWD and DILG officials, DOH directors and other officials should be sensitive to the healthcare workers’ dire needs.