Cayetano proposes ‘house to house’ distribution of gov’t aid

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QUEZON CITY – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Sunday calls on the Executive department and local government units to adopt out-of-the box solutions to operationalize the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” law in order to address the economic and health problems brought about by the COVID-pandemic.

Cayetano pointed out that finding the money and resources to give to the people is just half of the problem but the greater challenge is the actual distribution of the aid and delivery of quick-response programs. 

“The question now is how we can distribute the aid to those who need it most, at the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of waste,” he said in a news statement. 

In this regard, he proposed three key parameters that can be used in the distribution of cash or non-cash aid as provided under the newly passed law. These include house to house strategy, no-contact policy and use of photo-documentation. 

“Let’s do it house-to-house to minimize the crowd, there should be little to no contact between the beneficiaries and relief workers, maximize the use of technology for documentation and record-keeping,” Cayetano underscored the need to deviate from the traditional way of relief operations. 

“We must strike a crucial balance between delivering much needed aid, while making sure that we keep contact and the risk of contamination as close to zero as we can,” he stressed. 

Under the traditional set up, the organizers distribute tickets to people prior to get the package. Then on the scheduled date of distribution, people gather in a single venue to claim the cash or goods assistance. For documentation, the beneficiaries are required to sign a proof of acceptance of the cash or non-cash package.    

But Cayetano said that the traditional way of relief distribution is not anymore feasible now given the risks of contamination.  

“Our objective in Congress is to help in the building of a delivery system that is fast, effective and complete with all the safeguards necessary for government to protect the People,” he noted. 

Through the use of an infographic, the Speaker proposed to limit the number of distribution team to five: a local government representative either from the Social Welfare Department, Barangay Affairs office or Urban Poor Affairs office, Barangay Representative, Representative from the Office of the Congressman/woman, Urban Poor Neighborhood Association/NGO/Home Owners Association Leader and PNP or AFP as Security.  

A well represented group five can address the issue of mistrust on the distribution of funds and can be an effective measure to promote transparency and accountability.     

The Speaker clarified that taking photos for documentation should be done to avoid the use of pen and paper and lessen person to person contact. 

Under the proposed set-up, the distribution team should be equipped with protective gears such as googles, protective gowns, gloves, alcohol and cell phone cameras and provided with food and transportation to ensure fast and efficient process of delivery. 

“Bayanihan to Heal as One” law mandates the expansion and enhancement of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program is among the temporary emergency measures that shall be implemented to respond to the crisis brought about by the pandemic. 

The law also provides for the distribution of an emergency subsidy to around eighteen (18) million low income households in the amount not lower than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) or higher than Eight thousand pesos (P8,000.00) a month for two (2) months, computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates. 

To effectively respond to the needs of the affected sectors, the Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall transfer cash or goods, whichever is practicable, through the LGUs or directly to the households who have no income or savings to draw from including households working in the informal economy and those who are not currently recipients of the current Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program during the period of the quarantine. 

The Speaker also called on the support of everyone to start looking towards the days after COVID-19 and immediately begin working on a stimulus plan to get our economy up and running at the soonest possible time.