20K near-poor families receive cash aid

By Mariela Angella Oladive

Over 20,000 near-poor families in Western Visayas have begun receiving financial assistance through the Ayuda para sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP), launched simultaneously across provinces by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday, May 18.

AKAP is part of the national government’s response to mitigate the impact of inflation and economic hardships on target beneficiaries, whose income does not exceed the statutory minimum wage.

Funded through Republic Act 11975, the program has an allocated budget of P26.7 billion for its implementation throughout the year, providing P3,000 cash aid for each beneficiary.

In the region, the implementation is managed by DSWD Regional Director Carmelo N. Nochete, alongside Assistant Regional Directors Arwin Razo and Joselito Estember, Protective Services Division Chief Katherine Joy Lamprea, Crisis Intervention Section Chief Beverly Salazar, and various division chiefs and team leaders, in partnership with local government units.

A total of P60.9 million will be distributed across 16 sites, with areas scheduled to conduct payout in the following days.

The breakdown of beneficiaries includes 5,222 families in Iloilo, 7,440 in Negros Occidental, 1,731 in Aklan, 3,414 in Capiz, and 2,504 in Antique.

“We are glad that this time, the near-poor, who are also contributing to our economy, get assistance from the government. This is the sector that we do not want to fall back to poverty due to economic shocks such as the inflation nowadays,” Nochete said in a statement.

Households currently receiving regular assistance under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Social Pension Program are not eligible for the program.

The department emphasized that the AKAP initiative is crucial in preserving the purchasing power of Filipino families, especially those severely affected by the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, in Iloilo City alone, 3,000 beneficiaries received their financial assistance during the ceremonial payout attended by Iloilo City Lone District Congresswoman Julienne “Jam Jam” Baronda, together with Councilor Urminico Baronda and key officials from the DSWD.

In her address, the congresswoman underscored the collaborative efforts of the government and local officials in addressing the needs of their constituents. She emphasized the government’s commitment to continuing such initiatives to support the well-being of Iloilo City’s residents.

Beneficiaries like Julie Piamonte, a 72-year-old resident, expressed her gratitude for the assistance.

Dako gid ang bulig sining programa pambakal bulong. Ubra sulod balay. Nami tani kon sige-sige para makabulig gid kaangay sa amon nga mga senior,” Piamonte said in an interview.

(This program is a huge help for me to buy my medicines. It would be good if it continues to help seniors like us.)

This sentiment was echoed by Nong Toto, a 46-year-old driver from Barangay San Juan with three children. He expressed gratitude to the current administration for implementing such a beneficial program. Clarisa Mae Golleges, another beneficiary, voiced her relief and happiness upon receiving the financial help.

Happy man kami nga nadala sa mga nakabaton sa amo ni nga programa, ang ini nga kwarta gamiton ko para sa akon duha ka kabataan,” she stated.

(We are happy to be included in this program, and I will use this money for my two children.)