THE LEGISLATOR chairing the House committee on poverty alleviation said he will appeal to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to resume the delivery of basic social services which were suspended due to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

“Resume basic social services which were recently suspended by the good Secretary, from March 15 to April 14, 2020 including: Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens, UCT (unconditional cash transfers), 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) Distribution of Cash Cards, and Supplementary Feeding Program. I shall write an appeal on this to the DSWD Secretary,” Representative Dale R. Malapitan of Caloocan City said in a Viber message Tuesday.

Mr. Malapitan also proposed to the Office of the President an Executive Order granting tax breaks to manufacturing companies and suppliers of basic commodities such as water and rice.

In addition, he recommended that the DSWD advance the release of the 4Ps cash grant for February to April.

“I understand that what will be released on March 23 covers only the months of December 2019 and January 2020. I intend to recommend/appeal to DSWD Secretary (Rolando Joselito D.) Bautista to ask the DBM to release funds for advanced payout for the 4Ps beneficiaries,” he said.

The 4Ps are a cash transfer program intended to “eradicate extreme poverty in the Philippines by investing in health and education particularly in ages 0-18.”

Mr. Malapitan also urged the government to provide immediate assistance to poor and near-poor households who are not included in the 4Ps program.

The DSWD announced on Monday a month-long, nationwide suspension of its safety-net welfare programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of its employees.

In a statement, the DSWD said that activities requiring person-to-person contact in the following programs are suspended from March 15 to April 14: the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens, Unconditional Cash Transfer, 4Ps Social Welfare Development Indicator, 4Ps over-the-counter pay-outs, 4Ps distribution of cash cards, Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Listahanan, Emergency Shelter Assistance, Supplementary Feeding Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program, Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan, and Service Delivery Assessment.

The following programs are still operational: assistance to individuals in crisis, limited to senior citizen assistance; burial and medical assistance in the form of guarantee letters; cash assistance to victims of fire; food and non-food distribution, to be delivered by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to local government units; Centers and residential care facilities, subject to restrictions on the number of visitors; and the international social services office, which is in charge of providing DSWD services to distressed overseas Filipinos.

In the same statement, Mr. Bautista clarified that “social amelioration will not stop,” adding that, “it is during these trying times that the Department shows its compassionate care to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized,” while recognizing that “health is more valuable than anything else.” — Genshen L. Espedido