By Mark Ernest Famatigan
Over a month since the release of the first tranche of cash assistance, several students from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) continue to patiently wait for the supposed second batch of aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The cash aid, according to some who have already received it, amounted to P5,000, and was supposed to help stranded students around the campus with their expenses.
Gabe Almendras, a dormer outside the campus premises, claims to have given all the forms necessary to apply for cash assistance. Despite not being contacted, he decided to accompany his dormmates in receiving their aid only to find out that he was not on the list of beneficiaries at the time—despite seeing his paperwork at the counter.
“Nakapasa naman ako [ng papeles] pero kahit nakapasa ako wala pa rin daw ako sa list. Eh sabi ko sinagutan ko na naman, bakit wala ako sa list kasi ako lang ata sa dorm namin wala dun?” Almendras said. “Nakita ko andun naman yung paper na finill-upan ko, pero pagdating sa counter mismo sabi wala raw.”
Infuriated, with no one at the desk who could help him, Almendras was told to just wait for the second batch of recipients.
“Sabi ko, bakit need ng explanation or kung may pwede ba akong kausapin, eh wala raw kasi kakasimula lang daw nila lahat dun sa hintay nalang ako sa second batch. Tinanong ko kelan ‘yun, ‘di rin daw niya alam,” he said. “So bale pipila ka nang sobrang habang pila tapos pag may problema at kumausap ka ng tao dun, walang may alam. Nakakafrustrate lang. Hanggang ngayon wala pang 2nd batch.”
This seemed to be the case as well for Jessie Huyo-a, a student currently residing in the Makiling Residence Hall (MAREHA).
“‘Di ko po talaga sure kung anong reason why wala po ako sa listahan nila. Pero ako nafill up ko talaga both iyong form na binigay samin and iyong sa Google form,” he said. “Napatanong ako why hindi ako nasali sa listahan, sabi baka raw hindi ako nasagot sa Google form, pero sa pagkakatanda ko po, nagfill up po talaga ako since pinuntahan talaga ako sa kwarto nung dorm president namin that time na nagchcheck siya kung sinong hindi pa nakafill-out.”
He claimed to be the only dormer left in MAREHA who has not received financial aid.
“Kung sa dorm lang namin [sa MAREHA], ako lang hindi nakatanggap. Tapos since April 14 pa ako nag-follow up, pero sabi lang din ng OSA sa’kin nag-aantay rin daw sila,” he said.
While some students were physically able to inquire about their inclusion in the list of beneficiaries, other students were not contacted at all.
Mariam Macabanding, a BS Forestry student living off-campus, has been waiting for weeks for someone to contact her and her dormmates.
“Meron silang survey na pinost parang follow-up kung nakakatanggap ba ng relief from Kawingan, kung willing magpahatid at kung nakatanggap na ng financial aid from DSWD, other than that wala direct calls from OSA,” she said.
Macabanding recalled her registration process for availing the aid from DSWD. In their apartment, four out of six were not able to receive financial aid yet. She suspects that her two dormmates were able to receive the aid early because they were “scholars of UP”.
“Naaalala ko lang na yung [Oplan] Kawingan [volunteers] ang nagbigay ng forms sa amin. Nagregister lahat kami online tapos kasabay nung pagbigay ulit nila ng relief ay inabot namin ung filled-up forms including yung sa Red Cross. After mabigyan yung isang kasama namin after a week saka nabigyan yung isa,” she said. “It turns out na parehas silang scholars ng UP kaya siguro sila nabigyan.”
Requesting for budget
Upon contacting the Office of Student Affairs’ (OSA) official page, they explained that their office had no control on the cash assistance, and merely assisted the DSWD in distribution. The office said that they were to post about it on the page as soon as they received an update from DSWD.
Ian*, a student of the UPLB Graduate School (GS), told Perspective that as per his last conversation with an OSA staff, the office is said to currently be in the process of requesting for the budget of the second batch.
“I even asked for one of the faculty members which is working for OSA too. Asked him whether we still have the chance to receive the cash assistance. He only told me na requesting for budget for [the] second batch,” he said.
Ian is waiting for the second tranche of financial aid as well.
“Clearly, not everyone was given so what now? It has been almost a month after the first batch [of recipients] and still no update about the second batch,” the source said.
Expenses amid the quarantine
The stranded students shared how they would have used the financial aid that would help sustain their needs while the community quarantine is ongoing.
Almendras explained that the aid would help cover his expenses for food, laundry, and rent, since his parents’ work is affected by the quarantine restrictions.
“[Gagamitin sana for] Food and other expenses like laundry, or dagdag sa rent, kasi ‘di naman same allowance mabigay sa amin dahil ng sweldo [sa] ibang companies, eh naapektuhan parents ko. So ayun, sayang,” he said.
Joe Teñido, a BS Human Ecology student, told [P] that he would have used it to buy food which are not provided in the OSA’s food distribution, and medicine that he needed at the time of the first distribution.
“Pambili sana ng gamot (I was suffering from cough no’n e) tapos pambiling pagkain na hindi naprovide ng OSA like oil, bread, tapos yung matitira e s’yempre pang-ipon kasi sooner or later maniningil na ng renta,” he said.
Huyo-a said that the aid would be used for “backup”, just in case donor fatigue occurs for the dormitories in UPLB. We would have used it to cover transportation expenses as well, since he comes all the way from Cebu.
“Basically for backup sana if ever maubusan na ng natatanggap na donations iyong dorms, so malaking tulong talaga siya plus if ever makakauwi na rin after nitong ECQ good sanang pamasahe iyon lalo na I’m from Cebu,” Huyo-a said.
As of press time, there is no update on the OSA page regarding the DSWD financial assistance. [P]
*Real name withheld upon the individual’s request for confidentiality.