The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging all local government units (LGUs) to fast-track the distribution of the Social Amelioration Card (SAC) and come up with a master list of qualified beneficiaries to ensure the timely and quick release of assistance to those affected by the public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said Tuesday that time is of the essence in this coronavirus crisis and the poor people who were ordered to stay at home and refrain from moving are the priority. He says that government assistance should reach the beneficiaries as soon as possible as the economy is on a standstill leaving millions of Filipinos with no source of employment or livelihood.

“We must act fast to help our poor countrymen. I am directing all LGUs to produce a master list of the social amelioration programs’ target beneficiaries at the earliest possible time for us to be able to immediately address the needs of our countrymen,” Año says.

Eighteen million low-income families all over the country shall receive a special subsidy amounting to a mixture of food items and cash amounting to P5,000 to a maximum of P8,000 a month depending on the minimum wage of the particular region to provide for the basic needs of poor families as provided by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Año explains that fast distribution by the barangays of the SAC form to poor families will be key in preparing a master list of qualified beneficiaries who will fall under any of the amelioration packages to be implemented by the various national government agencies (NGAs) including the DILG.

The DILG Chief reminds anew that no LGU or barangay can limit the beneficiaries to registered voters only; and that Voter’s ID is not a requisite for inclusion in the list.

“Epal” signages or appendages crediting any local government official or bearing his name or image are also banned. “Huwag na po sana nating gamitin ang krisis na ito pa sa politika. Malayo pa po ang eleksyon, let’s devote our time and efforts in helping the people,” he says.

SAC is a form distributed at the barangay level that captures the family profile which will be a mechanism for poor families and the vulnerable sectors of the society to access the social amelioration programs of the government.

“Help will come for our kababayans in these trying times in the form of these social amelioration packages and the urgent distribution of the SAC by the LGUs and barangays will play a key role para mabilis din maihatid ang mga tulong na ito,” he says.

The DILG, DSWD, DOLE, DTI, DA, DBM, and DOF recently signed the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2020 defining the special guidelines on the provision of social amelioration measures to the most affected residents of the areas in the country under enhanced community quarantine.

Under the JMC, the target beneficiaries of the special programs are senior citizens; persons with a disability; pregnant and lactating women; solo parents; overseas Filipinos in distress; indigent Indigenous Peoples; underprivileged sector and homeless citizens; and informal economy workers who are set to receive assistance from the government’s social amelioration programs designed to assist them during the existing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Meanwhile, non-residents who were stranded can also be listed as beneficiaries.

Among the said assistance are Food and Non-Food Items Distribution; Assistance to Individuals In Crisis Situation; Livelihood Assistance Grants; COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program; TUPAD #BKBK; COVID-19 P3 ERF; Moratorium on Loan Payments of Small Business Corporation Borrowers; Price Freeze; Cash Assistance for Rice Farmers; Survival and Recovery Assistance for Marginalized Small Farmers and Fishermen; Recovery Package for Micro and Small Enterprises engaged in Agriculture and Fish Production and Other Supply Chains Activities in Accordance with the Agripreneurship Development Fund/Program of the ACPC; Expanded and Enhanced Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; and Livelihood Seeding Program/Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay.

Distribution of the Assistance

Through DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-65, DILG Secretary Año also says that strict observance of the imposed home quarantine, physical distancing, and prohibition of mass gatherings must be exercised in distributing the SAC forms and in distributing the assistance to the beneficiaries.

“It will defeat the purpose of controlling the spread of the coronavirus if we will not practice proper ECQ protocols. Baka imbes na mapababa natin ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa ay dito pa tayo magkaproblema,” Año points out.

In the same memorandum, Año says that LGUs must lead the door-to-door distribution of the SAC and the subsidy to ensure that the aid reaches the target beneficiaries and that ECQ protocols on physical distancing is observed.

He says that LGUs must coordinate with concerned NGAs, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the distribution of the assistance “to avoid any untoward incidents and for law enforcement purposes.”

In the case of Food and Non-Food Items, Año says that the LGUs must identify suitable drop-off points to the DSWD prior to the distribution to the target beneficiaries.