The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-VI) has reported a successful release of cash grants to Indigenous Peoples beneficiaries in the provinces of Negros Occidental, Aklan, and Antique.
The Conditional Cash Transfer Program or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) covers IP beneficiaries and it is being implemented by DSWD following the guidelines for Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Indigenous Peoples (MCCT-IP).
The agency completed the cash grant transfer last March 29 to a total of 1,467 IP rural beneficiaries. The grant from government is intended to alleviate them from a state of poverty.
Rundown of IP beneficiaries
The areas who received the support in Negros Occidental were Isabela (191 beneficiaries) and Himamaylan (366).
Three towns in Aklan received the grant, namely: Madalag (291), Libacao (277), and Malay (34).
In Antique, only Valderrama has an IP beneficiaries and 307 of them received the grant.
The cash transfer covered Period 6 or the months of December 2019 to January 2020 and it was served through the “point of service” – agency partners who are stationed on each of the province.
According to DSWD-VI, the pay-out [distribution of cash grant] went smoothly as planned considering the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine from the regional down to the barangay level as a result of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
It was handed over to the beneficiaries with the assistance of Local Government Units who provided security, transport service, and venue to ensure an orderly and peaceful distribution of the grant.
The field staff from DSWD-VI went to the area using improvised Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) yet they strictly enforced health and safety measures, such as; wearing of a face mask, hand washing or hand sanitizing, and observance of physical distancing on each of the venues.
In Madalag, Aklan, in particular, beneficiaries from six IP communities have to walk from their respective household down to the town proper to get their cash grants after the LGU strictly implemented a “No Backride Policy” on single motorcycles as part of the physical distancing measure against COVID-19.
The policy did not hinder 112 beneficiaries from Brgy. Panipiason to walk for more than 3-hours to Brgy. Mamba – the nearest village – wherein a service truck provided by Madalag LGU was waiting to bring the beneficiaries to the Point-of-Service at the town proper.
Barangay Panipiason in Madalag is the farthest barangay among the 26 villages and it is considered as a Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA).
Madalag beneficiaries expressed kindness
The COVID-19 crisis likewise showed the best character from 4Ps beneficiaries as they displayed resiliency, compassion, and kindness by reaching out to field staff who traveled to Madalag, Aklan for the distribution of cash transfer.
Surprisingly, the beneficiaries did not just walk for hours, they also carried above their shoulders a harvest from their farms like roots crops, vegetables, and rice. They offered the farm produce to the field staff urging them to carry it back to their families and loved ones.
The beneficiaries also showed their generosity after they learned that some of the staff were not able to go home for almost three weeks already after the ECQ was declared and were strictly enforced by the LGU. So they attempted to gather a small amount from their grant among fellow beneficiaries purposely to buy goodies and necessities for the staff.
Community Facilitator Arriane Pedrosa, however, declined the cash offered by the beneficiaries by explaining that the service that they are extending on the them [beneficiaries] is part of their responsibility as a staff of the agency.
The pay-out in Madalag was facilitated by six DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilya staff and it took 4-days to complete.
In spite of the ongoing global public health crisis, “we made everyone smile because they could already buy their basic needs for several weeks, said Jeanen Segunla, Municipal Link of Valderrama in Antique Province.
*Photos are from DSWD-VI