By Zaldy De Layola

CASH AID DISTRIBUTION. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) personnel distribute cash assistance to the victims of the El Niño phenomenon in this undated photo. The DSWD on Tuesday (July 2, 2024) said it has distributed more than PHP1.37 billion in cash aid the affected farmers, fisherfolk and their families. (Photo courtesy of DSWD)

MANILA – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in compliance with the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., has distributed over PHP1.37 billion in cash assistance to farmers, fisherfolk and their families affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the entire amount of the cash aid was handed over to some 137,333 beneficiaries from the select sectors in 17 towns in Cagayan Valley and some regions in the Visayas and Mindanao, each receiving PHP10,000 under the agency’s Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program (AKAP).

“This aid distribution is part of President Marcos’ Presidential Assistance to Farmers, Fisherfolk, and their Families (PAFFF) that aims to address the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon, especially on the agriculture and fisheries sectors,” Dumlao, assistant secretary for Disaster Response Management Group, said in a news release on Tuesday.

The AKAP is the recently launched program of the DSWD that provides social aid to individuals who may not have access to regular forms of assistance because they do not belong to the poorest population.

Of the total amount of assistance, Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao received the biggest chunk with PHP113.8 million for 11,385 recipients.

During the PAFFF distribution on June 28 in Bohol, where the President was joined by DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian, the Chief Executive said in his speech that he has expanded the duties of the DSWD not just to provide assistance during typhoons and other calamities.

“Dahil sa aking pananaw, itong dinaanan natin na El Niño, na tagtuyot, ay krisis din. Kaya nandyan po ang DSWD para tumulong at magbigay ng tulong sa mga tinamaan at nahirapan dito sa pagdaan ng El Niño sa atin (From my perspective, the recent El Niño, the drought, is also a crisis. That’s why DSWD is here to help and provide assistance to those affected and struggling due to the impact of El Niño),” the President told his Cebuano and Boholano audience during the distribution of various government assistance at the Carlos P. Garcia Sports Complex in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Apart from cash assistance, the DSWD is also providing family food packs to El Niño-hit families and individuals nationwide. (PNA)