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Rufus: DSWD execs could face suit if they exclude non-ECQ areas from SAP

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Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday warned implementers of the government’s social amelioration program (SAP) that they could face criminal charges if they exclude areas with less strict quarantine restrictions from the second tranche of financial aid.

He aired the warning as implementing agencies led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are preparing to distribute another P100 billion to low-income families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the inter-agency task force (IATF) against Covid-19, upon the recommendation of the DSWD, has decided to limit the second wave of assistance to households in communities covered by stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).

Rodriguez said the IATF decision and the DSWD recommendation on which it was based violate Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law.

He said the law mandates that emergency financial assistance should be distributed for two months to 18 million low-income families.

He said limiting the aid to areas covered by stricter quarantine means that poor families in most parts of the country will not receive assistance, since only Metro Manila and some parts of Cebu are under ECQ and GCQ.

“Among those who will not get aid are about 8,000 families who are my constituents in the second district of Cagayan de Oro City. We cannot stop them and other affected families from going to court to challenge the IATF decision,” he added.

Rodriguez reminded the concerned officials that aside the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act itself provides penalties for violations.

They are also liable to charges under the anti-graft law, he said.

The DSWD has distributed an initial P100 billion to low-income households. The House has opened an inquiry into delays in the distribution of SAP aid.

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