Flattening the Curve
NOTHING WAS more telling about the degree of government incompetence than its failure to implement the first round of disbursement of the social amelioration funds. Media covered the painful wait of some of the needy who lined up for hours only to be told that their names were not in the list and be sent home empty-handed.
The bureaucratic muddle reduced the impact of this well-intentioned assistance, which aimed to provide for two months PHP5,000 to 8,000 emergency cash aid to 18 million low-income families who have lost their sources of livelihood.
Media picked up citizen complaints. Videos captured the long lines in the sun, the frustration of some and the satisfaction of others. 24 Oras aired a report on April 20, noting discrepancies in the list of beneficiaries, some of which had double entries that still needed to be cleared. News accounts also documented the confusion between DSWD and local government units, as they could not agree on who belonged to the category “low-income families.”
Some reports showed how some LGU officials went on their own to provide whatever was lacking so that everyone could receive something. But this solution was not done everywhere.
The mess of the aid distribution exposed the failure of the government to maintain databases that are updated on population growth and mobility. A technical and administrative task that had been sidelined for too long, this fundamental weakness in documentation also magnified the inadequacies of the Duterte administration to meet the challenge of the pandemic.
CMFR noted the effort of lawyer Joel Butuyan to enumerate failures of the program in his opinion piece in the Inquirer. He said the social amelioration program was “bungled by the government on multiple levels,” citing confusing implementing guidelines, the many requirements and short time alloted in verifying details of beneficiaries, and the DSWD leadership’s overall lack of awareness of the situation on the ground.
On August 2, Duterte blurted out “Wala nang pera!” (There is no more money!) which cast away the prospects of so many displaced and unemployed, the huge informal sector that eked out their living on the streets, along with the stalwart king of the road, the “jeepney drivers.”
READ CMFR MONITORS ON THE ISSUE:
- “Unfortunately, the government has thrown its well-intentioned assistance into a bureaucratic muddle, as it failed to work out the important details in its implementation: Who are included in the distribution? What are the criteria for eligibility? What agencies are assigned to distribute? Instructions for distribution were not specific. The president himself did not give clear instructions, except to say that almost everybody was covered.“| Muddling through aid distribution mess
- “President Rodrigo Duterte announced on March 30 the biggest aid package ever to be given by government to people in need. Mandated by law to report on that day, the president addressed the nation at 11 p.m – a seven hour delay from the scheduled time. He took about 20 minutes to finish his address, taped for delayed airing. Duterte read from a teleprompter but the video showed obvious edits.“| The government’s emergency subsidy: Lacking substantive matters