By Billy Begas
Ang Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong on Sunday lamented that some local government units (LGUs) have failed to implement changes in the way financial assistance are distributed to families affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
“We’ve been in this situation in the past and it seems like we have not realized that chaos is not far behind if we do this system of distribution. It would have been easier and safer for everyone if the cash distribution is done door-to-door, or through virtual banks and virtual wallets, since LGUs already know the names and addresses of their priority target beneficiaries,” said Ong.
While some areas were able to conduct door-to-door cash distribution or have faithfully complied with health protocols in their areas, Ong said “this is an exception rather than the norm as many LGUs and barangays so far prefer their residents to line up thereby resulting to chaos.”
“Natural yan, people need assistance during this hard time kaya dudumugin kahit anong pila. Recipe for disorder yan. Andiyan pa yung maraming cases kung saan pumila ka na nga umaga hanggang gabi tapos hindi ka pala kasali sa listahan or hindi ka nabigyan dahil ubos na daw o may ibang priority ang barangay,” he added.
Ong also pointed out that while the government has shutdown businesses, it allowed people to go out and possibly expose themselves with COVID-19 to get their cash aid.
Under the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, s. 2021 of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of National Defense (DND), discretion was given to LGUs to determine the most effective and efficient way of releasing the assistance to their constituents.
Rather than giving them full discretion, Ong suggested that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) should create a distribution system template, which must be adopted by all LGUs and other concerned government agencies.
“The key to survive this pandemic is to be able to adapt and learn from our past mistakes. This ECQ part 2 showed us that we did not seem to have learned anything from the first ECQ. Seeing this long queue of people waiting for their turn to get a measly P1,000 is completely unacceptable,” Ong added.
Ong said the IATF should also impose disciplinary action against government officials who are clearly imposing additional burdens on the people or violating the guidelines set for social distancing and other health and safety protocols.
Meanwhile, Ong asked the IATF to look into the plight of frontline healthcare workers over delayed or non-release of their Special Risk Allowance.
“Sana naman suklian natin ang sakripisyo nila sa pamamagitan ng maayos at hindi naaantalang pagbibigay sa kanilang special risk allowance,” Ong said.