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About 18 million poor Filipino families will receive cash and food assistance from the government's social amelioration program, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said the agency would distribute in cash the government subsidies ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 per family for two months.

The government allotted at least P200 billion to help 18 million families rebuild their lives from the coronavirus pandemic.

The DSWD will still continue to distribute food packs worth P1,500 per household, the amount of which will not be subtracted from the cash grant, he explained.

"Mayroon tayong family food packs pero syempre yung ayuda yung cash na matatanggap nila, pwede nilang magamit sa pagkain, mga gamit sa bahay," he said.

(We will still distribute family food packs but the cash that they will receive can be used for other necessities.)

Bautista made the clarification after the agency initially said it planned to distribute the aid partly through food packs. 

Guidelines released by the DSWD on the social amelioration program state that families entitled to the cash grant will be approached by representatives of their respective local government units.

Among those entitled to government aid are the elderly, homeless Filipinos, "no work, no pay" workers, farmers and fishermen, and drivers of public utility vehicles.

The DSWD can process the cash aid in a minimum of 3 days however validation of beneficiaries would "take time," Bautista said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles had said the government began the process for the cash grant system on Wednesday as local government units were urged to submit the beneficiaries in their areas.

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