The Department of Labor and Employment said it will provide assistance to hundreds of thousands of formal and informal workers affected by the COVID 19 lockdown, as the agency appealed to businesses to submit their staff’s payroll to the DOLE so that their workers may avail of the P5,000 in financial assistance.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III observed that many establishments refused to submit the list of their staffs along with the payroll to the detriment of their workers.
“I therefore appeal again to companies that, for the sake of your employees and workers, submit your reports so that we may be able to extend them their most needed assistance under the COVID 19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP),” Bello said in a statement.
As of March 31, the DOLE field monitoring already recorded more than 630,000 workers displaced by the temporary closure or flexible work arrangements from 15,213 establishments. Of these,169,232 belong to the informal sector.
“We have so far distributed P160 million and we are accelerating the release of assistance to all those affected,” he said.
Bello said the cash aid available is different from the allocation of between P5,000 to P8,000 in subsidy that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other agencies are providing under the Bayanihan to Heal As One law.
While the new law provides a cash and non-cash Emergency Subsidy Program (ESP) for two months based on the prevailing regional wage rates, DOLE’s CAMP is a one-time quarantine assistance.
The ESP targets families with at least one member belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors such as senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, overseas filipinos in distress, indigent indigenous peoples, underprivileged sector and homeless citizens, and informal economy workers.
Among these programs are DSWD’s food and non-food items, cash assistance to individuals in crisis, and livelihood assistance grants; DA’s cash assistance to rice farmers; and other programs of DTI.
The Palace, meanwhile, assured the public there is enough food in the country to last for 75 days, as the government imported an additional 300,000 metric tons of rice.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told the public not to worry about the country’s food supply since it remains sufficient.
The Palace official made the statement during a virtual press conference on Wednesday morning.
“Let’s not worry. The food supply is continuous,” said Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases IATF-EID).
The IATF has recently recommended to President Duterte the importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice to further boost the country’s supply amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Palace reiterated the call to all law enforcement agencies and local government units to ensure the unimpeded movement of trucks transporting food and other basic needs during the quarantine period.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez urged supermarket operators Wednesday to extend operating hours to give the public more time to buy food and other goods as Luzon remained under lockdown.
Shortened operating hours of some supermarkets lead to the crowding of buyers, Lopez said.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Wednesday denounced what he described as "cumbersome set of rules" that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has imposed on the release of emergency funds to local government governents.
Villafuerte said these rules have kept 18 million household-beneficiaries from getting their initial P5,000 to P8,000 subsidies more than a week after the Congress wrote the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” to better arm the country in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
“The last thing that these poor and low-income families need at this time when the economy is at a standstill is DSWD-style red tape,” Villafuerte said. “Every single day of delay means another day of hunger for many of these target households.”
He added the DSWD leadership appears bereft of any sense of urgency at this time when millions of poor and low-income Filipino families have been struggling to survive two weeks into the Luzon-wide lockdown.
“At the rate the DSWD is taking its own sweet time in implementing a cumbersome set of rules on how the emergency funds are to be downloaded to LGUs, it may probably take a month before the target
beneficiaries are finally able to get the first tranche of theirP5,000 to P8,000 cash transfers per household," he added.
“We cannot afford any delay in the release of emergency subsidy to the 18 million households who have lost their only means of livelihood following the imposition of ECQ (emergency community quarantine) and other personal-movement restrictions by the national government as well as LGUs across the country in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara also urged the DSWD not to delay the release of the cash subsidy.
“DSWD knows what to do . The only difference in the situation is that we have a national emergency so they should act much faster," Angara said.
The senator said there should be no obstacle to the release of funds to the country’s most vulnerable sectors now that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act has been enacted and President Duterte himself has issued the order to provide emergency assistance for those hardest hit by the new coronavirus.