Makati Mayor Abby Binay today said the city government has released a total of P1,035,810,000 in financial assistance through electronic money transfer under the P2.7-billion Makatizen Economic Relief Program (MERP). The program grants P5,000 for each qualified individual.
The mayor said the city has surpassed the P1-billion mark just two weeks after MERP was rolled out, with the cash aid successfully transferred to 207,162 beneficiaries via GCash.
She also noted that a number of residents who have received the P5,000-cash aid have started their own businesses, aside from paying for essential needs and utility bills.
“Several recipients of our cash aid have shared inspiring stories on how they were able to use it to start a small business, with the goal of making it a stable means of livelihood to support their families for the long term. We are so glad that the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive among our constituents. It shows hope, courage and resilience in the face of adversity,” Mayor Abby said.
Diana Oblino, a resident of Barangay Olympia, said that after five members of their household—all Makatizen cardholders—received P25,000 in all, they were able to pay their water and electricity bills that had piled up during the quarantine.
“We were also able to open a small sari-sari store that would keep my parents busy during the quarantine. It’s also our way to keep the money growing instead of using it in one go. Because of Maka-tulong we were able to build another source of income that would help us get through these trying times,” Oblino said.
She recalled how eagerly her parents had gone to City Hall to apply for a Makatizen Card right after its launch, and were delighted to get a free ‘Chickenjoy’ meal each for their effort. They persuaded her and other members of the family to submit their application, underscoring that it will consolidate all benefits including those under the Yellow Card.
“We didn’t even have to do anything to get the Maka-tulong, we just waited until GCash notified us that P5,000 was added to our account. What a relief really, that in our ‘new normal’—the time of social distancing and quarantine, Makati was able to lessen human-to-human contact and distribute cash through online platforms because of a project launched years ago,” Oblino said.
One of the first batch of beneficiaries, Joeffrey Furo of Barangay Rizal used the money as fresh capital for his e-loading business, small sari-sari store and computer repair shop. With a wife and a child to support, Furo said the financial assistance from the city has been timely, especially for him who is a PWD. His leg was amputated after he figured in a hit-and-run accident.
Another resident, Agnes Bungay of Guadalupe Nuevo, also expressed her gratitude to the city after she was able to put up a sari-sari store using the P5,000 as initial capital.
More Makatizens have also joined the online food selling business trend using the cash assistance. These include Peachy Margallo of Barangay Pinagkaisahan, Ligaya Panganiban of Barangay Pembo, and Marielle Joyce Pabarlan of Barangay Cembo.
Rinalyn Binongo of Barangay West Rembo shared on Facebook how she used the money as added capital to expand her online food selling business.
From Barangay La Paz, Elisa dela Cruz posted a video of her cooking “turon”, a popular Filipino snack food, and thanked Mayor Abby for the P5,000-cash that enabled her to start her small business.
Evangelina Minton, a 67-year old resident of Barangay Pio del Pilar, in her Facebook post, said she used her P5,000 as additional capital for her small “lugawan” (hot porridge) business, which enabled her to add other variants and new products as well.
On the other hand, Gemaima Laoag of Barangay Comembo used her money for her e-loading business.
To qualify as a beneficiary of MERP, one must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Makati or any of the relocation sites managed by the city government of Makati in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan and Calauan, Laguna.
One must also be registered either as a Makatizen Cardholder, or as a Yellow Cardholder under the Makati Health Program, or as a voter in Makati City.