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  • Social Amelioration Program: How To Qualify And How Much Can You Receive

    In case your family does not qualify, there are other aid programs rolled out by the government.
    by Rachel Perez .
Social Amelioration Program: How To Qualify And How Much Can You Receive
  • Editor's Note: As of December 2021, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has facilitated the second tranche of SAP. The House of Representatives has passed  the Bayanihan 3 Act, under which the third tranche of SAP is supposed to be provided. The updated list of SAP beneficiaries per region can be found here.

    With the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) extended until April 30 and with no definite end in sight yet for the COVID-19 global pandemic, many Filipinos are counting on the government for financial help. This is where its Social Amelioration Program (SAP) comes in.

    SAP is a cash emergency subsidy program (ESP) for 18 million Filipino families whose lives are greatly affected by the ECQ. It's mandated by the new law, the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, which was signed by the President last March 25, 2020. 

    The program is headed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). 


    The first wave of the SAP cash assistance has been distributed to qualified families but has raised several reactions and questions. The talk has even evolved into a debate about who's considered middle class or lower class. But here is an explainer how SAP works based on information the government has released. 

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    How much is SAP's cash assistance

    The Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1. Series 2020, signed by the implementing departments, states that each qualified family can receive at least Php5,000 up to Php8,000 per month for two months for basic food, medicine, and toiletries. The amount varies, depending on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates and takes into account the other subsidy programs in cash or in-kind, under the DSWD. 

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    For example, in the National Capital Region (NCR), the highest amount a family can receive is Php8,000. In the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), it's Php5,500. Qualified families in CALABARZON or Region IV-A can receive as high as Php6,500. In Region 5 or the Bicol Region, the highest amount a household can get is Php5,000.

    Note that SAP is given on a per family or household basis — not individually. Even if your family checks more than one qualifying factor (you have a senior citizen and a pregnant member), it does not mean you get two cash aids. Families that live in one house or compound can apply separately. 

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    Who are qualified to receive SAP


    The government stressed that SAP's priority is families who need cash assistance the most, particularly those belonging in the informal sector whose livelihood has been most affected by the ECQ. Apart from the database of the national government, the DSWD also released the qualifying factors for households, which we listed in detail below.

    1. You or a family member is a senior citizen or aged 60 and above. 
    2. You or a family member is a person with disability (PWD). 
    3. You or a family member is pregnant or breastfeeding.
    4. You or a family member is a solo parent. 
    5. You or a family member is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in distress. These include OFWs who were repatriated or banned to travel outside the country, since January 2020, due to the COVID-19 global health crisis. 
    6. Your family is part of indigent and indigenous people. These are families or tribes certified as poor by field offices of the DSWD or National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR). Also included are families living in recognized ancestral grounds and who forage, hunt, and gather or part of informal workers as verified by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) or tribal chieftain/council of elders. 
    7. Your family is part of the underprivileged sector and homeless citizens. These are families whose income falls within the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Families who are homeless, including those who live in makeshift dwelling units, are included. 
    8. You or a family member is part of the informal economy workers, including independent, self-employed, and small-scale producers and distributors of goods and services (scroll down for more details).

    If you qualify, you will need proof of identification, certificates that show you were let go from your job, and other documents that support your claim.

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    Informal economy workers include:

    • directly hired or occasional workers employed on an irregular basis and whose salary is entirely dependent upon completion of work he or she was hired to do (e.g., plumber, laundry maid, etc.)
    • subcontracted workers as set by Articles 106 and 107 of the Labor Code.
    • home workers or any person who performs his job, in whole or in part, at home, which is purchased directly or indirectly by an employer (e.g., family business that involves craft-making or food production and processing)
    • house helpers or kasambahays, as defined in the Kasambahay Law or the Domestic Workers Act of 2013, who are not receiving salaries from their employers or cannot report to work due to the quarantine
    • public transportation drivers or drivers of pedicabs, tricycles, jeepneys, buses, taxis, Transport Network Companies (TNC) and Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS), such as Grab, Angkas, and Joyride drivers, provided that the vehicles they drive are owned by another person and their income depends on the boundary system. Public transportation drivers who own the vehicles they drive are still eligible if their income solely depends on it.
    • micro-entrepreneurs, producers, and distributors who operate independent, small-scale enterprises, distributors of goods and services, or enterprises with an asset (land) size of less than Php100,000. (e.g., owners of sari-sari stores)
    • family enterprise owners operating or managing small businesses such as retail, food production, vending, including but not limited to carinderia owners, fruit and vegetable vendors, street vendors, etc. 
    • sub-minimum wage owners are any person who earns below minimum wage salaries and is the sole income-earner of the family
    • farmers, fishermen, and farm workers or persons engaged in agriculture- and fisheries-related businesses, farm services, and secondary processing whose monthly income falls under the poverty line employees affected by the "no-work, no-pay" policy or cannot report to work due to the quarantine who are are not covered by the DOLE's COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP

    Families under the DSWD's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are automatically qualified and are priority beneficiaries of SAP. 4Ps provides conditional cash transfer to poor households to improve the health, nutrition, and education aspect.

    The eligible 4Ps beneficiaries are within SAP qualifications. These are farmers, fisherfolk, homeless families, indigenous peoples, those in the informal sector, those in geographically isolated areas, and those in areas with no electricity. Families included in the 4Ps go through a yearly revalidation process by the DSWD.

    How to apply for SAP

    Apart from the database of the DSWD and other implementing agencies, the local government units (LGUs) will also submit their list of families in need of cash assistance due to the prolonged ECQ.

    To build their list, the LGUs through the barangays will distribute Social Amelioration Cards (SAC) for each family. Each household head should fill it up properly. (Click here to learn how.) This will be the DSWD's basis for validating if a family that's not in their database is qualified to receive SAP. 


    Check your local barangay or municipality/city for announcements as to which families were approved to receive SAP and when or how it will be distributed. The DSWD posts the schedules of cash aid when it is turned over to LGUs for distribution. 

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    What to do if you don't qualify for SAP

    SAP is not the only assistance program the government has rolled out. If your family does not qualify for SAP, check if you can receive assistance through the following: 

    • DSWD's Food and non-food items, or relief goods in-kind and Livelihood Assistance Grants (LAG), or financial assistance for qualified sustainable livelihood program (SLP) beneficiaries whose livelihoods were affected by the declaration of community quarantine
    • DOLE's CAMP or Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Displaced/Underprivileged Workers (TUPAD)
    • COVID-19 Pondo Para sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso Enterprise Rehabilitation Fund (P3-ERF) and Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), a financing program established by DTI's SB Corporation (SBCorp) for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
    • DTI's Livelihood Seeding Program/Negosyo sa Serbisyo sa Barangay program that facilitates processing of business registration and provides technical, financial, and business management assistance to MSMEs
    • DA's Cash Assistance for Farmers Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance for marginalized, small farmers and fishers recovery package 

    It should be noted these are guidelines set by the government. If you have concerns about how SAP is being implemented in your barangay, municipality, or city, call DSWD's hotline at +63 (28) 951-2803

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