Manila, Philippines – The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women lambasted the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) over P780 million unutilized and unused Social Amelioration Program (SAP) or “ayuda” funds that were supposed to benefit poor peasant families ang marginalized sectors affected by the pandemic and militarist lockdown. The peasant women group claimed vindication as since last year, it have been vocal on the urgency of the financial assistance as the lockdown barred peasants from their livelihood, leading to wiping out of household incomes and throwing them into indebtedness. At the very end, DSWD and the Duterte regime denied the basic rights of the poor peasant families for aid as qualified beneficiaries amid the man-made crisis it generated. 

“We are enraged as many peasant families have faced hunger and poverty during the pandemic and now we are hearing about this huge amount of P780 million being unutilized and unused. It is morally wrong, a total failure and a neglect to the demand of the poor farmers and peasant women in the countryside. Moreover, as the DSWD imposed its discriminatory guidelines and numerous requirements, qualified beneficiaries have not availed the cash assistance that led to disqualification, “ Zenaida Soriano, Amihan national Chairperson said in a statement. 

The peasant women group castigated the DSWD who denied 139,300 qualified beneficiaries particularly in the regions CAR, 2, 7, 8 and 11 for cash assistance.  The group said that these regions are majorly rural areas where peasant communities are in dire need of assistance. 

Moreover, last year, Amihan chapter in Isabela denounced the Duterte government for its callousness as the DSWD discriminatory guidelines disqualified the following:

  • farmworker families who earn as low as P250 per day;
  • farmers who have 1 hectare; families renting at other families’ residence;
  • bedspacing workers;
  • with houses of concrete materials;
  • those who have no IDs for solo parents, senior citizen, PWD and others;
  • minors already with own families;
  • with family members abroad who are unable to remit;
  • senior citizens waiting for pensions for the next month and indigenous peoples

“We should hold the DSWD accountable for this irregularity and neglect for poor peasant families and marginalized sectors. Instead of providing assistance, the Duterte regime is ardent to impose militarist lockdowns, militarization of communities and even ordered the state security forces to take charge of the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). The Duterte government has militarized the supposedly public health COVID-19 crisis, majorly victimizing farming communities. It is a double whammy effect for poor peasant families,” added by Soriano. 

As Amihan continues to lambast the DSWD, the demand for P10,000 financial assistance and P15,000 production support continues for the peasant sector. It is a crucial measure to alleviate the impact of the lockdown and to sustain their livelihood and food production in the country. ###

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