HOUSEHOLDS that received the first round of social welfare cash assistance will remain eligible to receive the second round even after their communities transition from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) after April 30 to a less-restrictive general community quarantine (GCQ), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

The DSWD said in a briefing that the emerging rules for distributing the remaining assistance, known as the social amelioration program (SAP), are being drafted ahead of the ECQ-GCQ transition which kicks in for some parts of the country at the end of the month.

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista said April distributions reached over 18 million families and that the department has transferred 97.13% of its SAP funding to local government units (LGUs). He estimated that SAP funds worth P37 billion have reached intended beneficiaries.

The SAP involves monthly grants of between P5,000 to P8,000 to poor households in communities affected by the lockdown over a period of two months.

Mr. Bautista said a technical working group is drafting the guidelines after President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced Friday that some parts of the country will transition to GCQ after April 30, while Metro Manila and other areas deemed high-risk for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will remain under ECQ until May 15.

GCQ features fewer restrictions on movement and a gradual return to work for industries that had been classified as non-essential and subject to shutdown orders under the Luzon-wide ECQ.

Ito ang magiging basehan namin sa paggawa ng guidelines para sa implementasyon ng SAP for the second tranche. Kailangan kasi namin ang approval ng IATF (This will be the basis for creating the guidelines for the second tranche of the SAP. We need the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases for the guidelines,” he said.

Palace Spokesman Herminio L. Roque has said the government will look into corruption and inefficiency in distributing SAP funds, citing reports that qualified households have not been reached by the program and that some “ghost” beneficiaries are still on the beneficiary lists, despite being dead.

Malinaw po ang babala ng ating President: zero tolerance dun sa korapsyon lalo na kung pagpyepyestahan ay ang ayuda para sa mga naghihirap dahil sa ECQ… pagpaparusahan kayo at hahanapin kayo (The warning of the President is clear: there will be zero tolerance of corruption especially if they are messing with the aid for those who are suffering because of the ECQ… you will be punished and you will be hunted down),” Mr. Roque said in a briefing Monday.

Mr. Roque said the Palace endorses the disbursement of the second round of SAP funds to those that received the first round of aid. — Gillian M. Cortez