Thursday, June 18, 2020

Security forces start clearing communist-infested areas to make way for cash aid distribution

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 18, 2020): Security forces start clearing communist-infested areas to make way for cash aid distribution (By Aaron Recuenco)

Police commanders are now coordinating with their military counterparts for clearing operations in areas infested by communist rebels and other threat groups as the government prepares to distribute the second tranche of cash assistance to those affected by lockdown measures.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa (NCRPO PIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the move is to ensure that those tasked to distribute the cash aid under the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) will not be harassed or fall prey to threat groups, especially in far-flung areas.

“Police Regional Offices have coordinated with Armed Forces of the Philippines territorial units for clearing operations to ensure the safe passage of target cash subsidy beneficiaries from their residences to designated distribution centers,” said Gamboa.

“Select PNP personnel will be deployed in the distribution centers to assist in the actual disbursement and handling of funds, in cooperation with DSWD Special Disbursing Officers,” he added.

Cases of harassments and attacks were recorded during the distribution of the first tranche of SAP assistance.

As a result, there was a delay in the distribution of the cash assistance for those rendered jobless and deprived of income due to the implementation of quarantine measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

President Duterte had earlier tapped both the police and the military not only to secure the distribution but also to protect the money from alleged anomalies perpetrated by local officials.

Hundreds of local officials, mostly at the barangay level, were either charged or currently being investigated for SAP anomalies.

“The Philippine National Police is ready to provide security and safety services for the distribution of the 2nd tranche cash aid under the national government’s Social Amelioration Program,” said Gamboa.

“I ordered Police Regional Offices and concerned PNP units to give full support in terms of technical, administrative and logistical assistance to facilitate the orderly distribution of cash aid under SAP,” he added.

Gamboa said he also tasked local police commanders to coordinate with barangay officials for the observance of minimum health safety protocols, including sanitation areas and physical distancing, and in providing other security requirements at various distribution centers.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is in charge of the distribution.

The 2nd tranche of SAP distribution will be implemented in the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 3, except Aurora Province and Region IV-A which covers the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.

Also included are Benguet, Pangasinan, Iloilo, Albay, and Cebu; and the key cities of Bacolod, Zamboanga and Davao.

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