Malacanang recently announced that local government units (LGUs) will not longer be in charge of distributing food and financial assistance provided by the national government. Instead, the Department of Social Welfare and Development will take charge, ensuring that local politics would not unjustly disqualify any beneficiaries and eliminate personal bias by local officials. However, Manila Bulletin’s caption on Facebook made it seem as if LGUs will be completely stripped of any authority to help their constituents, feeding the popular anti-admin sentiment of President Duterte the dictator.
“President Duterte stripped LGUs of their authority to distribute assistance” is not exactly accurate.
What Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said is that the national government will do all it can to protect the donations and aid allocated to the Filipino people and will not stand for corrupt local officials lining their pockets during the pandemic.
More importantly to Manila Bulletin is that Nograles specifically said that this pronouncement did not mean that LGUs cannot give assistance to their constituents.
“Pwede ipagpatuloy yung pamamahagi mula sa quick response funds. Itong sabi ni Pangulong Duterte, ito yung mula sa social amelioration fund,” Nograles said.
He then also clarified that LGUs can still be mobilized by the national government to distribute assistance, but this would be under the supervision of the DILG and the AFP to prevent unruliness or corruption.
Politicking in local governments is not uncommon in the Philippines. Even as President Duterte cracks down on corruption, local officials still often get away with playing favorites. Without the DSWD’s intervention, barangay officials or Mayors could leave out the names of needy families just because some of their members supported their opponents in the last election.
So the move to give the power of distribution to the DSWD in this time of crisis when there are 18 million families on the line actually benefits the people.
What hurts public good is Manila Bulletin’s careless wording of their caption. We need to hold our media to a higher standard.
As of this writing, that post has 1.4 reactions, over 350 comments and over 500 shares, way above the normal engagement of the Manila Bulletin page. Many are unjustly angry at the government for no reason. Many more are likely scared and feeling vulnerable for no reason. Was it worth it, Manila Bulletin?