Beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) have demonstrated honesty in the midst of the pandemic by returning the duplicate cash assistance that they received from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) by different agencies of the government.

Vilma Millamina, Jocelyn Colingan, and Maureen Kiloyen were among the 4Ps beneficiaries from Baguio City who willingly returned the P5,000 cash assistance that they received under the COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), while Imelda Sibayan, also from Baguio City, willingly returned the P4,150 she received under the second tranche of the  SAP implemented by DSWD.

4Ps beneficiaries received P3,650  to P6,650 SAP cash aid per month for two months as a top-up amount added to their regular cash grants and rice allowance. As such, they are no longer eligible to receive cash aid from other government agencies.

“Noong nalaman ko ang tungkol sa polisiya ng Social Amelioration Program (SAP), minabuti  kong ibalik ang natanggap ko mula sa DOLE dahil nakatanggap na kaming [mga 4Ps] beneficiaries ng P4,150” (When I learned about the SAP guidelines, I immediately returned the cash to DOLE because we [4Ps beneficiaries] have already received the P4,150 emergency cash assistance), Vilma shared.

Before the declaration of the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vilma, 42, was a maintenance crew in a restaurant in the city, earning P5,600 monthly, while her husband, Perfecto, was an on-call construction worker.

Vilma admitted that the pandemic has challenged them as a family, but she is grateful that they have become stronger, thanks to the lessons they have learned from their monthly family development sessions (FDS) as 4Ps members.

FDS is a platform of 4Ps for delivering key knowledge or information that empower poor households so they could adequately respond to the needs of their family members. It also fosters deeper social awareness and promotes active community development and participation.

Meanwhile, Imelda, 58, and Jocelyn, 22, both shared that even though the pandemic gravely affected their sources of income, it did not dampen their resolve to do the right thing, as they still hold onto their principle of “Honesty is the best policy.”

Imelda, a mother of five, is an on-call dishwasher while her husband is a farmer-laborer. Jocelyn, on the other hand, is a solo parent and a former grantee of 4Ps but she is still living with her parents. She shared that she badly needs the assistance, but her mother already received SAP as a 4Ps program beneficiary, so she willingly returned the aid she received from DOLE.

Maureen, 42, on the other hand, did not hesitate to return the assistance she received from DOLE because she knew from the start that they are not allowed to receive duplicate cash aid from the government during the pandemic.

Maureen was a maintenance staff in a non-government organization in the city, but the company was forced to close due to the pandemic. Her employer applied for CAMP.

“Idi binagaan dakami ti DOLE nga addan diyay subsidy ti CAMP, saan ko nga napan inala ta ammuk nga bawal nga agawat kami iti duwa ta naala min diyay SAP me nga 4Ps. Idi pinalagipandak ti DSWD staff, napan kon inala idi May 12 ket inderitsok nga insubli ijay DOLE” (When DOLE notified us that we are eligible for the emergency subsidy under CAMP, I did not get the cash from the servicing bank because I knew that it is prohibited for us, beneficiaries, to receive duplicate aid. So when a staff from DSWD reminded me about it, I went to the servicing bank to claim the amount and directly returned it to DOLE), she stated.

While her family struggles financially, she said she values the importance of honesty and responsibility, as highlighted in their monthly FDS.

For Vilma, she admitted that, at first, she felt bad when she learned that they are prohibited to receive duplicate aid, but she later realized that many families affected by the pandemic are also in need of assistance, so she voluntarily returned the duplicate aid that she received.

“Alam ko rin na madaming mga pamilya ang apektado at nangangailangan ng ayuda dahil sa krisis (I also know that many families are affected and badly need assistance because of the crisis), Vilma empathized.

Jocelyn, who is now a displaced worker, believed that the P5,000 cash aid she returned would go a long way in helping to provide the needs of other affected families. Imelda and Maureen, likewise, believe that the subsidy that they have returned would benefit other families in need.

DSWD commended the beneficiaries who voluntarily returned the duplicate aid they received, emphasizing that they exemplify honesty as responsible members of the community and embody the true spirit of malasakit in these trying times.