DSWD Secretary Corazon " Dinky" Soliman. file photo.
DSWD Secretary Corazon ” Dinky” Soliman. file photo.

TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 18 (PNA) –Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman has called on the local government units (LGUs) to release the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) funds to beneficiaries before the end of this month.

Soliman, in her visit here Monday, said it is the mandate of the LGUs to distribute the cash aid to super typhoon Yolanda survivors.

“If they cannot distribute it to the beneficiaries, we will be the one to do it,” she said.

The DSWD chief said that releasing the cash shelter aid within this month is also a way to avoid election-related issues.

“We need trust from the people. They will understand why we are doing this and they know who are doing right from wrong. If this will be used by LGU officials for their electoral campaign, then let the people decide if they will still vote for them or not. We let the people decide because they know what is wrong and what is right,” Soliman said.

The government allocated PHP8 billion for ESA, to include the PHP2 billion released in 2014, representing the first tranche.

The DSWD official said that there is no political consideration in releasing the ESA to towns and cities, noting that Tacloban City whose city mayor has been critical to the Aquino administration is among the first in Yolanda-hit areas to receive the fund.

“It is not true, just ask Tacloban City because they are among the first to receive fund in 2014,” Soliman told reporters here.

For the first tranche, Tacloban City got more than PHP335 million for the partially damaged houses.

The city government, through the city’s Social Welfare and Development Office, has been releasing ESA to totally damaged houses this week that is expected to be done within the month.

Releasing of ESA assistance should be made with the money given to beneficiaries and not with asking them first to sign documents of ESA release even without the money given to them, Soliman said.

She also said that validation of names in the list of beneficiaries was the reason why it took more time for the national government to download it to concerned LGUs.

“Even now, there are still people who wanted to be part of the list, which is now being validated. We instructed LGU that they should go on with the release of ESA to avoid people on waiting for this assistance,” she added.

Soliman clarified that the fund for shelter aid is from the General Appropriations Act and not from donations for super typhoon Yolanda survivors.

Donations for typhoon Yolanda that was worth more than PHP1 billion was already used by the agency in the construction of temporary shelters or transitional shelters and in funding for sustainable livelihood program of the agency for typhoon survivors.

“Donors fund was used in 2014. There is a small amount remaining that worth PHP7 million, which we will use for the sustainable livelihood,” she added. (PNA)