The Reality Of The Social Amelioration Program Of DSWD In The Philippines

As mandated by RA 11469, Section 4, paragraph (c) of Republic Act (RA), an emergency subsidy to low-income households in the amount of a minimum of Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) to a maximum of Eight thousand pesos (P8,000) per month for two (2) months shall be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The purpose of which is to cover for basic needs such as food, medicine and toiletries during the enhanced community quarantine to fight the spread of Corona virus.

The process of implementation of the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) or the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) are embodied in Joint Memorandum Circular 1, Series of 2020. The subsidy shall be computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates and the subsidy received from the current conditional cash transfer program and rice subsidy shall be taken into consideration and in the compilation of the emergency subsidy.

This program supposedly target families with at least one member belonging to vulnerable/disadvantaged sectors. This group includes senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, overseas Filipinos in distress, indigent indigenous peoples, those within the poverty threshold, homeless citizens, informal economy workers, and stranded workers.

As what is posted in The Manila Times dated April 11, 2020 by Al S. Vitangcol, the claim of one senator who cited that this social amelioration program is for everyone is due to the fact that if the estimated population of the Philippines is 100 million, about 10 million or 10% are overseas; therefore, there are 90 million (90%) citizens at the time of the quarantine period. With an average household of five members, there will be 18 million households.

Given this data, it can be gleamed that the 18 million households was computed from the estimated population of the Philippines; making everyone a recipient of the ESP (or SAP).

However, during the survey, I was the first one to be interviewed in our purok. As a solo parent, I was really happy and hopeful that maybe I could be one of the beneficiaries since I am really qualified to apply for the cash aid. I work as a freelance researcher. I travel around but during the enhanced community quarantine, I find it difficult to travel anymore, putting my current projects on hold.

So, from March 2020 up to the present, I am no longer earning. Although, I have only two kids, but it’s a bit hard to sustain their needs especially their studies. My eldest child, who is in senior high school has an online class. Since she is one of the top ten in the class, she really doesn’t want to be left behind. So, what an online class needs? Basically, a strong internet connection. We only have a wifi connection which cannot suffice the need of a Google classroom. So, we use our android phones instead. We can consume up to 200 pesos load in a day; and up to now the class is still ongoing.

If you are in my case, who is not earning from March up to the present, how are you going to sustain this need? This social amelioration program implemented by DSWD is supposedly the answer. I am really disappointed with the outcome of that survey because it turned that I am not qualified afterall to avail the financial assistance. I really dunno what their criteria is in assessing their beneficiaries.

Not only me is disheartened; but other people who are also victimized by false hopes during this crisis.