How to Apply DSWD Social Amelioration Program

With the advent of the pandemic, the DSWD Social Amelioration Program (DSWD-SAP) is one of the DSWD programs that was launched to provide immediate relief for affected families. The program aimed to address the psychosocial and economic needs of families affected by the pandemic to prevent secondary trauma that results from despair, depression, and other social problems.

Also Read: What is DSWD AICS Program – Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations

And since there has been a huge commotion regarding the distribution, qualifications, and other details of the DSWD SAP in the past few months, we should try to understand what this program is. Keep on reading to find out more about it.

how to apply dswd social amelioration program

What is DSWD Social Amelioration Program (DSWD-SAP)?

The Social Amelioration Program offers low-income families with a monthly cash subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 for two months, depending on where they live. During the pandemic, the subsidies allow the most vulnerable members of society to meet their basic necessities.

SAP, like the installation of any new technology, has been challenging. A number of LGUs have reported difficulty in creating the list of recipients and providing the cash subsidy due to a lack of funds or inadequate distribution infrastructure. Some have also criticized the pace with which subsidies are provided, the need for more clarity regarding subsidy recipients, and the precise amount granted to each consumer.


The speed with which the coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) was transformed into exceptional health, economic, and geopolitical issues is unprecedented. As of May 2021, COVID-19 had spread throughout the Philippines, with over 1.1 million confirmed cases and 18,821 fatalities. Aside from the direct clinical repercussions of COVID-19 transmission, evidence is emerging that the pandemic and the efforts adopted to suppress the virus have had major economic and social consequences. According to the Asian Development Bank, the country’s annual GDP growth is expected to be -10%.

In response to the outbreak, the Philippine government established the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), which became one of the country’s most significant emergency response projects.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced that it will provide Social Amelioration measures to families from disadvantaged sectors for a period of two months, as stipulated by Republic Act (RA) 11469, commonly known as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.” This financial assistance is intended to assist families affected by the community quarantine during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Bayanihan to Heal as One Act

On March 23, 2020, Republic Act 11469, also known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, was signed into law, declaring a national health emergency in the Philippines owing to the COVID-19 epidemic. In it, Congress authorizes the President to use extraordinary powers for a short time and under certain conditions to handle an issue that poses a clear and present threat to the public.

To alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in the Philippines, the Philippine government created a social support program throughout the quarantine period. The government provided emergency aid under the Social ImprovementAmelioration Program (SAP). SAP served 18 million low-income households, or 70% of the total population served. SAP beneficiaries include 4.4 million Pantawis Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) households and other vulnerable Filipinos such as informal workers.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in a significant decline in the country’s economic growth. It has also disrupted various sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, construction, and manufacturing. This is expected to have a negative impact on the country’s poverty rate.

The economic crisis has severely affected the country’s economy, causing the consumption growth to drop to its lowest level in over three decades. In February 2020, the number of tourists decreased by 41.4%. This resulted in a decline in private consumption growth during the year’s first quarter.

The country’s economic collapse in 2020 has led to high unemployment. Many people have lost their service jobs and been placed on unpaid leave. It can take the economy up to six to 18 months to recover from its current state. By June 2021, the unemployment rate is expected to reach 9%.

Guide to DSWD Social Amelioration Program

Benefits of DSWD-SAP

Despite the controversies and issues surrounding DSWD-SAP, there were some crucial benefits of the program, which are as follows:

  • Provide temporary relief for recipient households
  • Introduction of digital payments to the masses.
  • The first round of disbursement of an amount between Php 5,000 to Php 8,000 within a two-month window as the country was going into lockdown was impressive.
  • The combination of early in-kind assistance and cash assistance through the SAP helped families meet a wider range of needs.

Qualifications for the DSWD-SAP

According to the government, SAP’s priority is to assist families that are most affected by the effects of the ECQ, especially those from the informal sector. The DSWD also released the household qualifying factors.

Families from the poor or informal sector who lost their source of income as a result of the enlarged community quarantine and who have at least one member from one of the vulnerable or disadvantaged sectors:

  • Senior Citizens;
  • Persons with Disabilities (PWDs);
  • Pregnant and lactating mothers;
  • Single Parents;
  • OFWs in distress;
  • Indigent Indigenous Peoples (IPs);
  • Underprivileged Sector and Homeless Citizens;
  • Informal Economy Workers;
  • Directly Hired or Occasional Workers:
  • Subcontracted Workers;
  • Homeworkers; and
  • Househelpers
  • Drivers of Pedicab, Tricycle, PUJs, UVs, PUBs, Taxi, Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) and Transport Network Companies (TNC);
  • Micro-entrepreneurs and Producers, Operators of Sari-sari Stores, Family Enterprise Owners,
  • Sub Minimum Wage Earners;
  • Farmers, Fisherfolks, and Farm workers;

Employees affected by the “no work, no pay” policy and who are not covered by DOLE Order No. 209, Series of 2020, or any other DOLE issuance/s on the adjustment measures program.

Moreover, families enrolled in the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are automatically qualified and prioritized for SAP.

4Ps provides underprivileged households with conditional cash transfers to improve their health, nutrition, and education.

The recipients of the qualifying 4Ps have SAP credentials. Farmers, fishermen, homeless families, indigenous peoples, those in the informal sector, those in geographically isolated areas, and those without electricity are among those affected. The DSWD conducts a yearly revalidation procedure for families participating in the 4Ps.


The list of beneficiaries will be provided by Local Government Units (LUGs). Furthermore, DSWD, DA, and DOLE will collaborate with DILG to use their own datasets.

Thus, the DSWD representatives will determine those who are qualified for the program based on the criteria and qualifications set by the department.

Those who qualify based on the above criteria set by the department may need to show:

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

How to Apply for the DSWD-SAP

Because of the extended ECQ, local government units (LGUs) will give their own list of families in need of cash support in addition to the DSWD and other implementing agencies’ databases.

Step 1: The LGUs would issue Social Amelioration Cards (SAC) to each family through the barangays in order to compile their list.

Step 2: Each family’s head should do their utmost to fill it. DSWD will utilize this criterion to decide if a family not in their database is eligible for SAP.

IMPORTANT: There is NO NEED to leave your home as DSWD representatives will deliver the forms straight to your doorstep.

Step 3: After completion, deliver one copy to the authorized local government employees who will collect the forms. The second copy must be kept by the home for future monitoring and reference.

Step 4: Once approved, the DSWD and other government agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture and Labor and Employment, will distribute the necessary assistance through your local government.

NOTE: The SAC form is a validation tool that aims to review families who need immediate assistance.

Alternatively, you may check with your local barangay, municipality, or city to find out whose households have been approved for SAP and when or how it will be disbursed. DSWD provides distribution schedules when local governments obtain cash assistance for distribution.

Infographic about DSWD Social Amelioration Program

Check out this infographic to learn more about the DSWD Social Amelioration Program! This program helps provide food and nutrition assistance to those in need. It provides supplementary feeding for pregnant and lactating women, as well as malnourished children and adults. The program also includes health education activities to promote proper nutrition and hygiene practices.

DSWD-SAP Form Sample

Here’s a sample of the DSWD Social Amelioration Program form. DSWD representatives will deliver one of these straight to your doorstep. It is free, and all you need to do is to fill it out and return it to your barangay or local DSWD office.

This is the DSWD form that you need to complete for you to get cash assistance from the government. Do note, however, that the SAP is intended mainly for the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society. This means that if you are not in dire need of financial assistance, this form will not be of much use to you.

SAP Sample Form
DSWD Social Amelioration Card

WATCH: Pamimigay ng SAP subsidy, itinuloy

Here’s a clip featuring the SAP distribution done in May of 2020, in the early parts when the country was placed in lockdown and many people were left without any sources of income at all. SAP has proved to be of immense help to many people who were struggling with their finances, especially during the first months of the crisis. 

The government has also been quick to distribute cash assistance to all those who are eligible. However, it was only available for a time because the government had to take over the distribution of the cash assistance so that they could use it for other things. The reason why it was only distributed for a time is because the government already has plans in place to distribute other forms of aid to those who are still struggling with their finances.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What program of DSWD is part of the Social Amelioration Programs?

DSWD’s financial assistance program, which is part of its social amelioration efforts, is known as AICS. It provides financial assistance to families and individuals who are in crisis. These include those who are poor, vulnerable or marginalized.

2. How much subsidy will each qualified household receive?

The government’s food subsidy program provides a monthly payment of at least five thousand pesos to families with a household income of about five thousand pesos. It can be increased to eight thousand pesos depending on the prevailing minimum wage in the region.

3. How many households will benefit from social amelioration programs?

Around 18 million families are at risk of being unable to earn a living during the CEP. These include those in the informal sector and those who are poor.

4. How will they determine the qualified beneficiaries?

The list of beneficiaries will be submitted by the local government units. They will also use the data collected by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

5. How about those households under 4Ps? Are they included in the social amelioration programs?

The government will provide additional assistance to families with children who are members of 4Ps. This aid will not exceed the P5,000 to P8,000 per month subsidy that they are entitled to in their region.

6. How will they monitor the distribution of social amelioration programs?

The Social Amelioration Card is a form that is distributed at the local level to identify the families that are affected by the government’s programs. It will help them access the services that the government provides. The form will also record the various services that the head of the family has received.

7. What should you do if you don’t qualify for SAP?

In addition to SAP, the government has other programs that can help your family. If you don’t qualify for SAP, check if you can still receive assistance through these programs:

  1. Livelihood Aid Grants (LAG), or financial aid, are available to qualifying participants in the sustainable livelihood program (SLP) whose livelihoods have been interrupted by the declaration of community quarantine.
  2. DOLE’s CAMP, also known as the Tulong Pangkabuhayan for Displaced/Poor Workers (TUPAD)
  3. COVID-19 Pondo 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) Cash Assistance for Farmers Survival and Recovery (SURE) is a recovery package for underprivileged, small farmers and fishermen

8. What agencies implement the Social Amelioration Program (SAP)?

These agencies include DSWD, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Finance (DOF) (Bayanihan Act and JMC No. 1 Series of 2020).

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), The Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are also working together on the implementation of SAP.

9. What does DSWD provide under SAP?

The Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) is the umbrella term under which SAP is classified. It was enforced by the DSWD during the ECQ in partnership with Local Government Units (LGUs) or local governments from provincial to village. (JMC No. 1, Series of 2020; Definition of Terms #5, 5.1 at MC 9, Series of 2020, Section V).

10. Where can the SAP-ESP recipients’ list be found?

In response to the concerns about the transparency of the implementation of the SAP-ES program, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the posting of the names of qualified beneficiaries in the various local government units (LGUs) and barangays. The DSWD also has a link that can be found on its website, which can be accessed by clicking on the link.

11. Who is not included in the SAP-ESP?

According to DSWD guidelines, the following people are ineligible for SAP-ESP assistance:

Employees in the private sector or The Formal Economy who may be on the wage; Individuals who have retired and receive a pension (regardless of how small or large the pension is); and Individuals with the financial means to support their families (MC 9 Series of 2020, Section VI-B).

12. Why are Private Sector employees or those in the formal Economy excluded even when categorized as No work, No Pay?

They are not included because the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has a program known as the CAMP or COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program that aims to provide financial assistance to those working in the private sector who have experienced a reduction in income or no income at all as a result of ECQ. This program prevents them from being included (DOLE Department Order No. 209 Series of 2020 and MC 9, Series of 2020, Section VII).

On the other hand, SAP-ESP intends to assist individuals who work in the informal sector and considers them among the poorest of the poor (MC 9 Series of 2020, Section VI-A).


The SAP has provided some relief to many Filipinos at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, some have argued that the program has not lived up to expectations and that it should be revised.

These individuals also believe that a more comprehensive system should be in place to ensure that all Filipinos are protected from the future impact and threat of infectious diseases.

It was clear from the very start that the program was intended only as a brief reprieve from the ravages of a pandemic, not as a permanent solution. As such, it was only meant to be implemented for one year and then discontinued.

We hope you’ve learned something about the DSWD-SAP program from this article, and if you’re interested in learning more, we suggest you visit the DSWD-SAP page on the agency’s website. It has a wealth of information about the program and its implementation, including a full list of the diseases covered by the program (as well as those that aren’t), frequently asked questions from beneficiaries, and contact information for those who need more help or guidance.