DSSD indefinitely halts cash subsidy distribution

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BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

A photo of the crowd that failed to observe social distancing at the Bacolod City Government Center Saturday, posted by Rica Gwapa Baladitan Garibay on her Facebook page went viral during the weekend, with 1.3K shares, as of last night.*

The Department of Social Services and Development in Bacolod City is “indefinitely suspending” the distribution of cash subsidy to members of pre-identified sectors who are most affected by the pandemic.

This after netizens scored the non-observance of social distancing of hundreds of Bacolodnons, who flocked to the Bacolod City Government Center Saturday expecting to avail of cash subsidy from the DSSD.

Pacita Tero, DSSD Bacolod head, said some of these people camped out at the BCGC grounds Friday evening after being informed that the city will be releasing cash subsidy to the transport groups and other sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tero said that early last week, the DSWD tasked the DSSD to identify, interview, and distribute additional financial aid to the most affected sectors in the city. The procedure in this financial assistance was intended to accommodate only those who were already pre-identified for interview.

Since they have been conducting interviews for almost a week now with a quota of about 100 people per day, the number that turned out Saturday morning came as a complete shock to the DSSD, Tero said.

She added that people cut in line and put those who came earlier, including senior citizens, in an uncomfortable and unsafe situation.

Tero said the crowd was so big that it was no longer feasible for them to continue their usual distribution as police officers on duty immediately instructed everyone to vacate the area.

They also heard reports of people spreading misinformation about the distribution of assistance.

“We appeal to the public in this age of fake news to only get information only from official sources,” Tero said.

The DSSD is now reassessing the whole program and evaluating strategies to safely and efficiently distribute the assistance, she said.

Tero said this is a regular program of the DSSD for individuals in crisis or the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).

The program includes medical and burial assistance, as well assistance for the Badjaos.

They are giving priority to medical assistance related to COVID-19, she said.

The amount to be availed of by the affected sectors will depend on their situation and is not fixed, Tero said.

They have given out between P1,500 to P5,000 per beneficiary. Since they have released about P5.2 million as of Friday and their budget for September is no longer sufficient, they might have to make some adjustments to accommodate as many as possible, she said.

They are expecting an additional budget for October, Tero added.*

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