The Local Government Units (LGUs) of Caraga Region have used different initiatives and strategies in the implementation of the Social Amelioration Programs (SAP), specifically for the Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office Caraga. These strategies purposely aim to hasten the cash aid distribution of 5,000 to low income-households who are heavily affected by the enhanced community quarantine brought about by the corona virus or known as the covid-19, as this is also the directive of the current administration – to address immediately the needs of the people.

MSWDO Hilaria B. Zerda (left) provided updates on the status of SAP implementation in Placer, Surigao del Norte to the members of the monitoring team from the field office.

Due to the limited capacity of the department to implement the said program given a very short period of time, the LGUs played a vital role since they were deputized to implement the programs. This includes the identification of the eligible recipients of the said program, since they know their constituents better, and they can identify families who belongs to the informal sector, or the poorest of the poor.

The strategies crafted and used by the LGU is not just to hasten the distribution of the cash subsidy but also in the process of identifying the qualified recipients of the program. This includes strategies in addressing complaints and queries from the community.

For Placer, Surigao del Norte, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWDO) conducted revalidation tapping the Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), Barangay Nutritionist Scholars (BNS), and Day Care Workers after several unqualified families were able to receive the assistance. They also created a task force headed by the Mayor and the Vice Mayor who acted as the Chairperson and Vice Chair in order to correct the erroneous payout.

While, in Bislig City, the BHW, BNS, Day Care Workers, and CSWDO staff were primarily responsible for the validation of potential list from DSWD (Listahanan Data). The validating teams were assisted by the Barangay and Purok Officials since they are the ones who know the people on the ground better. The validated list was then consolidated by the CSWDO cluster in-charge for the consolidation of the qualified list of beneficiaries.

The Regional Monitoring Team from the Field Office provided technical assistance to government officials of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

Prior the actual payout, potential beneficiaries were given “coupons” which serves as an invitation to participate on the final validation. The coupon holder then went through 3 levels of validation/verification/cross matching by the validating staff. The 3 levels of validation were conducted to ensure that only eligible beneficiaries will receive the ESP. Other than that, during the actual distribution of SAP assistance, the LGU designated grievance personnel who were in-charge in addressing complaints and clarifications from the public.

However, even if the LGU was able to put up a good system for the validation process, it still earned a lot of criticism from the public – especially from those who believe they were qualified from the program. This is why, the LGU will set-up a post-payout validation task force to act on grievances and to verify those families who have received but are subject to complaints.  Once proven ineligible, the recipients were asked to refund the said subsidy.

For Lingig, Surigao del Sur, after receiving the potential list from the Department, the LGU created a team who conducted the table and house-to-house validation. The LSWDO immediately proceeded in meeting the BHWs and Day Care Workers, who were then tasked to do the validation of beneficiaries.

“The LGU and BLGU don’t have participation in the identification of the eligible beneficiaries. I don’t want the program to be politicized by anyone, that is why I let the MSWDO do the identification. My order is to use the list from DSWD and use it to conduct validation immediately,’’ Mayor Roberto Luna, Municipal Mayor of Lingig said.

Sample coupon given to potential beneficiaries in Bislig City – the coupon was used in the validation process of the families for the program.

However, on the actual payout, the LGU provided assistance by ensuring the safety of the front liners. This includes the augmentation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel, additional manpower to speed up the payout, and ensure the observance of social distancing and wearing of masks. The payout only lasted for 4 hours in each barangay, as a result of the well-coordinated plan.

The LGU was able to release 100% of the fund allocation to the 1977 beneficiaries for the municipality of Lingig. They completed the payout is a span of 10-day, way ahead of the deadline.

Another LGU who have done well in the ESP implementation is the municipality of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, headed by Mayor Shem G. Garay. After receiving instructions from the DSWD Field Office, Mayor Garay instructed the BLGU to conduct the validation and finalization from the list of potential beneficiaries from the DSWD Listahanan database. Again, all BHW were deployed in the different barangays. Also, they hosted radio programs to inform the public about the criteria of the beneficiaries for the program, as well as the guidelines for the SAP implementation. Instant queries and clarifications from the listeners were answered on-the-spot. Eventually, this good practice led to 100% disbursement of funds following the allotted timeline.

Aside from the well-organized implementation of the SAP/ESP, several LGUs have also ensured that they addressed the needs of those who were not covered by the program. Several LGUs have provided relief goods to their constituents. Field Office Caraga was able to document good practices related to this in the municipalities of Carmen, Surigao del Sur, and Malimono, Surigao del Norte (stories posted on the DSWD Caraga account).

Whatever the strategies made by the 73 LGUs, these all led to the timely distribution of the financial assistance to the eligible beneficiaries in the region. Although the Department together with the LGUs are already used in providing aid to its constituents specially those who are in crisis or emergency situations, but this is the first time that such a program, with its guidelines, have been implemented. There were challenges met by the implementers along the way, but with coordination and good communication strategies, DSWD and the LGUs were able to achieve its goals and targets. The government was able to provide social interventions to the people during this time of pandemic.

The role of LGU and DSWD have been critical in the implementation of the program. But also worthy of praise and admiration is the gallant act of the PNP, the AFP, and the DILG, who have given their 100% support in the implementation of the program.

Caraga Region has been lauded as the Top Performing Region in the SAP aid distribution all over the Philippines. And this is because all players, all stakeholders made sure they played their part in providing maagap at mapagkalingang serbisyo to the people of Caraga. #Social Marketing Section