The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue to conduct payouts of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP)-cash assistance for micro rice retailers as the Commission on Election (COMELEC) granted on Tuesday (September 12) the agency’s request to utilize the public funds amid the election ban.
DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian submitted to the COMELEC on September 6 the supplemental request for authorization in the release, disbursement, and expenditure of funds allocated for the cash aid program to benefit micro rice retailers and sellers affected by the imposition of price cap on rice.
According to DSWD Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications Romel Lopez, the approval of the request to exempt this program from the provisions of Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to COMELEC Resolution No. 10944 will help the DSWD provide economic relief to the retailers impacted by the rice price ceiling.
“The approval of the DSWD Secretary’s request recognizes the urgency of addressing the economic challenges faced by vulnerable micro-scale rice retailers across the nation,” Asst. Sec. Lopez, who is also DSWD spokesperson, pointed out.
With this approval, Asst. Sec. Lopez noted that the DSWD will still continue to distribute Php 15,000 worth of cash assistance to the affected business owners during the period of the election ban, from September 15 to October 31.
“We appreciate the COMELEC for recognizing the importance of our economic relief efforts and granting us this exemption. With this decision, we can continue to provide critical support to our micro rice retailers during this challenging time,” Asst. Sec. Lopez said.
The economic relief subsidy program, initiated by the DSWD, aims to provide essential support to micro rice retailers who have been adversely affected by the imposition of price cap on regular and well-milled rice.
Other DSWD programs, projects with approved exemption from election ban
Aside from the SLP-cash assistance project for rice retailers, Asst. Sec. Lopez said the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program, Food Stamp Program (FSP), Tara, Basa! Tutoring Program, Oplan Pag-Abot, Project Lawa, Social Pension Program, Centenarian Program, and Supplemental Feeding Program, were exempted from the election ban.
The DSWD is also given authority to continue the use of funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Bangsamoro Umpungan sa Nutrisyon (BangUn), Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAPH), Kalahi-CIDSS, Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA Program, Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons (RRPTP), Psychosocial care and support for persons living with HIV and their affected families.
Also included in the approved request are the Targeted Cash Transfer Program (TCT), MNLF Transformation Program, Beneficiary First Project, Residential and Non-residential Care Program, Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project, Socio-Economic Program for Normalization of the Commissioned Combatant, and Modified Shelter Assistance Project.
The Department is also authorized to continue its ongoing disaster relief, early recovery and rehabilitation programs, and provision of programs and services to address the needs of poor, vulnerable, and marginalized Filipinos.
Secretary Gatchalian pushed for the approval of the exemption request to ensure that social protection programs reach those in need.