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Who’s poor or middle class? Outdated 2015 census adds to chaos in distributing dole outs during lockdown

Nograles also pointed out that a law was needed to include middle class Filipinos in the social amelioration program because the Bayanahian Act only indicated 18 million indigent households as beneficiaries.

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When Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers last month, it promised to give P5,000 and P8,000 to all 18 million indigent Filipino households to survive while forced to stay at home during the lockdown.

But the planned subsidies program quickly unraveled as government officials, mayors and barangay captains and beneficiaries quarrelled on how many Filipinos deserve the doleouts on top of logistical problems in distributing the money promptly and efficiently, but more importantly during the lockdown.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles blamed the confusion on the outdated 2015 census data which underestimated the number of poor Filipinos and senior citizens considered most vulnerable to the lockdown.

Ganito po iyon eh, iyong basis natin noong pagbibigay ng social amelioration, based iyan sa mga census natin. So kung titingnan mo po, ano ito eh, ang bansang Pilipinas kung i-census mo or tingnan mo iyong data, we are made up of 24 million families – families po iyan ha, 24 million families. Ganito karami ang pamilya, mga pamilya ng bansang Pilipinas – 24 million families taking into consideration ang ating population.

Nograles said the Department of Social Welfare and Development based its estimate on the 2015 census which listed only 15 million indigent families in the country.

He said Congress merely added three million to come up with the 18 million target to account for the population growth in the last five years. He said Congress also assumed that six million of the 24 million households in the Philippines were middle- to upper-class, some of whom have clamored to be included in the massive lockdown freebies.

“Nagtataka nga tayo… the LGUs are still saying kulang pa, okay. Ngayon, sabi nga ni Pangulong Duterte, ‘Okay, sige tingnan natin but we have to raise money somehow to find …’ kasi nagpapadagdag ang mga LGUs ng iba pang mga pamilya, so hahanap pa tayo ng pera para diyan, number one,” said Nograles.

“Iyong middle income gusto rin. So magka-cull tayo from the records mula diyan sa six million, mag-e-estimate na naman po tayo. So ganoon po iyong proseso. And I’d like to emphasize, it’s families, hindi po individuals. Pero para hindi na confusing, families na lang ang gagamitin natin as the reckoning point,” he added.

Nograles said the government has no choice but to proceed with handing out the dole outs while fixing its data base on the fly because the money was needed urgently.

“So ito pong lahat ng concerns ng ating mga LGUs (local government units), okay lang po iyon, naririnig po namin iyong mga concerns ninyo. But in the meantime, we cannot wait. Hindi po tayo puwedeng maghintay. Hindi rin po puwedeng maghintay ang ating mga constituents ‘di po ba? So ibigay na natin and then ayusin na lang natin iyong mga complaints ‘no, iyong nagrereklamo. Ganoon na lang po para lang makaumpisa na po tayo,” said Nograles.

Nograles also pointed out that a law was needed to include middle class Filipinos in the social amelioration program because the Bayanahian Act only indicated 18 million indigent households as beneficiaries.

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