DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A city councilor raised concerns over lapses in health protocols during the distribution of social amelioration program (SAP) in payment centers that exposed beneficiaries to risk from Covid-19 infection.
Councilor Diosdado Mahipus, Jr, a first termer from the second district, called the attention of the Davao office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Davao City Police and barangay officials to take action on reports made on the distribution of the second tranche of SAP.
The councilor raised this issue during the city council’s session Tuesday, as he cited reports that in some payment centers, there was no observance of physical distancing as beneficiaries queue to receive their benefits.
He also said even senior citizens and pregnant women were reportedly lining up as early as 2 am to be able to be first in line to claim for the cash aid.
“Our health protocols are endangered of being violated which put to waste the effort of our city and the sacrifices of our people because the people are made to unnecessarily suffer not only inconvenience but also the risk of contracting the virus,” Mahipus said in his privileged speech.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many citizens have lost jobs or income, forcing national and local governments to provide cash aid and other social relief for the poor.
The DSWD-Davao have said in previous interviews that they had set a scheduling system for an orderly distribution of the SAP, including limiting the number of beneficiaries to collect their aid for a day.
But Mahipus pointed out there are still weaknesses in this system.
He noted that some centers will cater to what he called ‘bahaw’ claimants, a Filipino term for leftovers, or claims that were not claimed on their schedule.
“Even if the beneficiaries have made it in the first 100 of the day it still doesn’t mean that he or she gets to be catered because the claimants are still controlled if not limited because the payout center will still be catering to the ‘bahaw’,” the councilor said.
Mahipus also said that he has information that even priority numbers are “controlled by fixers” who ask for 150 to 300 pesos from beneficiaries for getting a number for the day.
The councilor stressed that such lapses and manipulation will lead to further delays.
“What will happen to those lining up for the day that will not be catered anymore? That is why despite the scheduling of payout the system will become disorganized and most importantly if we don’t have a working system the people will not only suffer inconvenience but will be at risk because of the long queue,” Mahipus said.
Mahipus asked the DSWD-Davao and barangay officials to ensure claimants will be provided with comfort while ensuring they follow physical distancing. (davaotoday.com)