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DSWD won’t allow politicians to distribute AKAP cash aid

MANILA, Philippines — Politicians are barred from participating in the actual distribution of cash aid under the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP), the controversial assistance program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said this yesterday, as he announced that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of AKAP had already been signed and published in late April.

“They cannot do the actual distribution. That is against our protocol,” he said over radio dzRH.

Gatchalian added that DSWD disbursing officers are not allowed to hand over the assistance to any politician for distribution.

“Only our disbursing officers can hold the money because they are accountable for that,” he stressed.

Gatchalian underscored that this policy is intended to avoid giving the impression that the cash aid came from the politicians, but he conceded that local government officials, for instance, could observe the distribution from the sidelines.

Gatchalian acknowledged that the DSWD is still relying on these politicians for manpower and other logistical support when they go to the communities.

In February, Sen. Imee Marcos had accused some members of the House of Representatives of using AKAP in collecting signatures for the people’s initiative to amend the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

According to Gatchalian, while the IRR, contained in Memorandum Circular 04, series of 2024, is already out, they have not started its implementation.

“I want to clarify that we have not disbursed (any assistance) as we speak. We are fine-tuning the roll out. So, the public could not yet come to the DSWD to apply,” he said.

The circular states that some P26.7 million of the DSWD’s budget for 2024 had been earmarked for AKAP, which is part of government’s efforts to “address inflation and protect the purchasing power of Filipino families.”

The DSWD is eyeing to start the implementation before the end of May.

To qualify for AKAP aid, one must belong to the low-income category, or whose income does not exceed the minimum wage.

Gatchalian added that initially, AKAP assistance will be given on a one-time basis, but