The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will distribute P13 billion in cash aid to workers to help them recover from the effects of global health pandemic.
The funds from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) are aimed at ensuring income and employment retention for workers in the formal sector, and provide wage amelioration and other unemployment benefits to freelance and self-employed workers, including the repatriated workers from abroad.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that between 1.5 million and 5.1 million SME workers have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bello said the DOLE will have to determine the exact amount of subsidy through the number of affected workers based on either the data of the Labor Department or the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Small firms will need to apply to avail of the assistance and provide documents showing that they are classified as a micro or small business establishment and detail the amount of their losses.
“They just need to apply not for exemption but for a subsidy from the government to pay the 13th month of their employees. They have to apply and it is up to DOLE to determine whether they are entitled to a subsidy,” Bello said.
The DOLE said the funds will be divided into the following: P5 billion one-time assistance to some 993,000 displaced workers of the formal sector; P6 billion for emergency employment of around 863,000 informal sector workers; and P2 billion for 200,000 repatriated migrant workers.
“Perhaps by this week or early part of next week, this will be rolling, continuous already,” Labor Undersecretary Joji Aragon said in a press briefing.
Bayanihan 2 is the Philippines’ second COVID-19 emergency measure which authorizes the government to spend P140 billion to help sectors affected by the pandemic.
The pandemic has left some 3.3 million Filipinos jobless, according to the Labor Department’s records.
Senator Grace Poe said the approval given to the Department of Budget and Management to release funds from the Bayanihan 2 directly to the agencies should speed assistance to the people most affected by the pandemic.
“We expect the funds to get to the hands of concerned agencies on time and [that they will be] utilized efficiently,” Poe said.
Senator Christopher Go agreed, saying that funds allocated for COVID-19 response and economic recovery should be immediately released.
“DBM Secretary Wendell Avisado assured me that they are acting on all budget requests and will make sure that there will be no delays on their part as long as documentary requirements needed from concerned agencies are correct and complete,” Go said.
He said if legislators worked overtime to swiftly pass Bayanihan 2, then executive agencies must act quickly, too, to implement it.
“Every single peso counts, especially in times of crisis, and, in every minute wasted, lives are at stake. Any delay will be detrimental to the country’s path to recovery,” he said.