Duterte asks DILG to probe complaints on cash aid distribution in NCR Plus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government to look into reported irregularities in the distribution of financial assistance in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces.

During a meeting with government officials late Monday night, Duterte said he has seen media reports on beneficiaries encountering problems in securing the cash grant.

"Maraming nagreklamo na ano [A lot of people have complained], so ask your field officers to try to make the rounds and investigate if these allegations are true," he said, referring to claims that some residents have received no or insufficient aid.

The President made the request after DILG Usec. Bernardo Florece claimed the department has so far received no complaints regarding the emergency subsidy in the capital region and nearby provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal.

Almost 23 million beneficiaries from low-income households in the five areas, which had been placed under the strictest form of lockdown from March 29 to April 11, are expected to benefit from the government's social amelioration program.

Each qualified resident may receive cash or in-kind assistance of ₱1,000 each or up to a maximum ₱4,000 for a family. The amount was described by critics as measly compared to the ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 worth of subsidy provided under Bayanihan 1 in 2020 amid the raging health crisis.

According to Florece, all government units in the Greater Manila area have opted to distribute cash, except for Calauan town in Laguna which chose to give the aid in kind.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, meanwhile, admitted the subsidy rollout, which started on April 6, has been "slow," with only 8% of the allocated budget reaching the beneficiaries as of April 11. This translates to some ₱1.7 billion disbursed out of the allotted ₱22.9 billion.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority earlier said it will formally write to the DILG to ask for more time to complete the distribution, noting that Metro Manila mayors will find it difficult to cover all of their residents in 15 days' time.