MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said he would reach out to the executive department to “straighten out” the government’s “strategy” in its distribution of the P5,000 to P8,000 emergency subsidy to over 18 million low-income families affected by the Luzon-wide quarantine.
This after Sotto was asked about the supposed plan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to distribute the said subsidy in both cash and non-cash assistance to make up the P5,000 to P8,000 aid.
Ideally, Sotto said families should only receive cash so that they would be given the freedom to choose what food supplies to purchase.
“Isa po yun sa siguro na itutuwid namin o paplantsiyahin namin muna. Kung ganon ang intindi ng executive department, lalo na ng DSWD, kailan makausap namin sila antimano or agad sapagkat mas gusto namin…kaya natin ginawa yan e para yung cash ibigay sakanila, Sila bumili.” Sotto said in an interview on dzMM.
(That’s one thing that we can straighten or iron out. If that’s the understanding of the executive department, especially of the DSWD, we need to talk to them immediately because what we wanted to be was that only cash will be given out to affected families. They will buy the goods themselves).
“Yun goods natin kung minsan hindi nila gusto yung dumating, napipilitan kasi walang-wala talaga e kaya kahit ano kakainin. Pero kung sa kanila, maba-budget nila at saka mabibili nila kung ano yung gusto nila doon sa lugar nila. Yun ang thinking namin…yung thinking sa senado, ng Kongreso,” he added.
(Sometimes families have no choice but to accept goods even if they would prefer others. But if they are given cash, they could budget that and buy what they prefer. That’s our thinking, that’s the thinking of the Senate, Congress.)
Sotto said the assistance given by the national government should go “over and beyond” what local government units are already providing their constituents.
“I’ll try to be in touch with the DSWD today at saka kay [Executive Secretary Salvador] Medialdea, alamin ko yung ano yung strategy na yun kasi for example diyan sa NCR [National Capital Region]…anong strategy nila dun, may igu-goods pa rin sila dun? E yung LGU diyan nagdi-distrbute ng pagkain na,” he said.
(I’ll try to be in touch with the DSWD today as well as Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to discuss what would the government’s strategy is, for example in NCR, will they still give goods? The LGUs there are already providing food to them.)
“Hindi ko naman sa pinipintasan yung idea na yun baka may dahilan sila, pero ang sinasabi ko, binibigyan mo ng cash binibigyan mo ng goods para wag nang lumabas, para san yung cash?” he added.
(I’m not criticizing the idea, maybe they have their reason, all I’m saying is you will give them goods so that they will no longer have to go outside, but then you will also be give them cash?)
Sotto pointed out that it would be much easier to distribute cash rather than goods.
“Ipe-prepare mo yung goods, bibilin mo, babalutin mo, idi-distribute mo e mas mabilis i-distribute yung cash e,” he said.
(You have to prepare it, buy it, pack it and then distribute it. Distributing cash is much easier.)
“Lahat ng safeguards nilagay ng presidente dun sa pagbibigay ng cash e, nanduduon sa executive order niya saka sa report niya samin e, immediate suspension, removal, prosecution ng mga mayor, mga barangay captain ang magloloko diyan sa pera na yan e,” he added.
(The President have put in place safeguards in the distribution of cash aid, in his executive order and his report to us, mayors or barangay captains who would abuse the distribution of cash aid).