Local governments have distributed 40.57% or P4.5 billion of the P11.2 billion in cash aid to low-income individuals in Metro Manila, the Department of Interior and Local Government said on Wednesday.
“At least 4,566,655 low-income individuals have already benefited from the cash aid, and the LGUs continue to distribute the social assistance,” said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
The initial budget allocated for Metro Manila LGUs released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) amounted to P10.894 billion, and the DILG received an additional P368 million.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday said it is working with the DBM to release P3 billion to compensate public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators under the government’s service contracting program.
According to the DOTr, out of the P5.5 billion for the service contracting program under Bayanihan Act 2, the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) disbursed P1.5 billion to PUV drivers and operators as of last June.
The department said initial payouts of P4,000 were provided to 23,410 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P25,000 were provided to 8,461 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P20,000 were provided to 702 drivers; and 18,864 drivers received their weekly payouts.
In another development, Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has intensified his campaign to press for the grant of P10,000 for people adversely affected by the pandemic.
From a once-a-week event, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program of the former Speaker has been raised to a daily program. This, he said, is intended to deliver more aid to more people at the quickest possible time during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
“Think of the pandemic as a marathon, we need to be swift. The government and private sectors should work together for a swift response,” Cayetano said during the program on Tuesday, during which 50 new beneficiaries received P10,000 each in cash aid.
Together with other department agencies, the DILG began distributing cash assistance to eligible residents of Metro Manila back on August 11.
National Capital Region (NCR) LGUs are given at least 15 days to complete the cash distribution or a deadline on August 25.
The city with the highest percentage of cash aid distributed so far is Caloocan with 59.78%, followed by San Juan with 56.51%, Mandaluyong with 55.22%, Taguig with 53.41%, and Makati with 51.48%.
“We congratulate the NCR LGUs for an orderly and systematic distribution of Ayuda. We are doing distribution every day,” said Año.
“We have not received any report of any untoward incident and our PNP is there to ensure that all minimum health standards are met,” he added.
Earlier this month, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya announced that all mayors in Metro Manila agreed to start the distribution of the cash assistance on the same date.
Metro Manila was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20. Its nearly 11 million residents, especially the bottom 80% of the population, are the expected beneficiaries of the financial assistance.
Meanwhile, DOTr’s undisbursed budget under the service contracting program was diverted to the national treasury.
“Rest assured that the LTFRB is committed to helping the DOTr achieve its goal in improving the public transport system towards the development of long-term solutions in the service of our drivers, operators, and the public in general, especially during this time of the pandemic,” the department said.
It also said that the 2020 Commission on Audit report, which said the service contracting program of the DOTr and LTFRB utilized only 1 percent of the allocated budget for the program, is “misleading.”
“To set the records straight, with the actual funds downloaded to LTFRB only in November 2020, the Service Contracting Program was immediately implemented to incentivize PUV drivers and operators who were given permission to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic,” DOTr said.
The Memorandum of Agreement between the LTFRB and the Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) was only signed in December 2020, it added.
The pact governs the distribution of cash subsidies to eligible beneficiaries of different modes of public land transportation through LBP’s crediting to subsisting LBP accounts or subsisting other bank accounts or e-money/wallet of GCASH or PAYMAYA via InstaPay or PESONet.
“Therefore, it is misleading to angle certain reports and columns that only 1% was used from the P5.56 billion funds for the Service Contracting Program, where in fact, the 1 percent utilization rate only covers the implementation month of December 2020, which is also the coverage/extent of the COA report that was released,” DOTr said.
Under the program, participating PUV drivers would receive an onboarding incentive and a per kilometer fee to ferry medical frontliners, authorized persons outside of residence (APORs), and essential employees.
For those joining the Free Ride initiative under the Service Contracting Program, the DOTr and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) increased the payouts from P46.80 to P82.50 per kilometer for buses, and P52.50 for jeepneys.
Of the 50 beneficiaries of Cayetano’s program, 30 were displaced workers and frontline workers from the cities of Pasay, Las Piñas, and Parañaque. The other 20 were chosen from the Facebook livestream’s comments section.
Since the ECQ started on August 6, Cayetano and the members of the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso have been giving cash assistance daily to workers gravely affected by the pandemic.
Prior to that, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program had been held once a week starting last May.
During Tuesday’s program, Cayetano noted that among the displaced workers were food stall vendors, sari-sari store owners, and the like.
Attention was also given to frontline workers such as utility workers, street sweepers, and tricycle drivers, among others.