Recognizing the successes of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Senator Sonny Angara is calling for the institutionalization of the program that has helped poor Filipinos when they need it the most.
In filing Senate Bill 2032, Angara noted that there are still a significant number of Filipinos living in poverty, with families belonging to the lowest income decile making a mere P9,416 a month or P113,000 annually.
“With such meager wages, these families end up spending beyond their means and as a result, they are pushed further into poverty. The situation becomes even worse for them when they are faced with faced with emergencies and calamities that are beyond their control,” Angara said.
“Since its inception, the AICS of the DSWD has been a lifesaver for many families undergoing difficult challenges and as such this program should be institutionalized to ensure it is always there for those in dire need of assistance,” the Senator added.
The AICS is part of the Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances (PSFIDC) of the DSWD.
AICS provides immediate and temporary assistance to individuals and families in crisis situations such as natural disasters and medical emergencies.
Among the services provided under the AICS are financial assistance for transportation, medical, burial, food and other support services, which are given to individuals and families in crisis situation.
Under the bill, each qualified beneficiary of the AICS shall receive financial, medical, transportation, food, material assistance and other assistance, including disability support services, psychosocial support or intervention for dysfunctional families and their children who need trauma care and management, and legal consultation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the plight of people dealing with crisis situations worsened, with the average spending pegged between P101,000 to P150,000, based on the 2021 study of hospitalization expenditures of COVID patients at the UP PGH.
In many cases, they also have to spend for transportation and COVID-19 testing every time they have to back to their provinces.
More recently, the AICS was also tapped to assist the families affected by the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro.
Most of the residents of the affected municipalities rely on fishing as their primary source of livelihood so when a ban on fishing was imposed after the oil spill, the AICS provided them with emergency aid to help them while they are looking for alternative sources of income.
“Over the years, AICS has been a great help to many Filipinos who are dealing with various challenges. While we are working to institutionalize the AICS, we will continue to push for the funding of the program in the GAA,” Angara said.