President Rodrigo Duterte has approved an additional four million beneficiaries to receive cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program.
The number is an add-on to the 18 million beneficiaries who will get financial assistance due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine imposed to check COVID-19 spread, a Malacañang official said Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the low-income families would receive a financial subsidy of from P5,000 to P8,000 depending on the minimum wage in their region.
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“Before, there are only 18 million that will receive cash aid, but the decision of the President is that all must receive cash aid. So another four million beneficiaries were added,” Roque said.
“Based on current data and not the 2015 data. That’s the problem so we need to include new names,” he said.
The estimated number of beneficiaries of the cash assistance from DSWD was indicated in the President’s latest report to the legislative department on April 27 remains at 18,046,093.
Another 1.3 million were identified to receive cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Agriculture.
Several local government leaders previously said they had been caught in a muddle because their respective databases show that more of their constituents are in need of cash aid compared to the national government’s estimated 18 million families.
But Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said over 13 million poor families have not yet received financial subsidy and decried the government’s slow response amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government admitted that some local government units failed to distribute cash aid in their respective areas as social distancing would be violated.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government ordered local government units to finish the distribution of SAP benefits by April 30, but extended the deadline for another seven days.
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“The implementation of the social amelioration program is still slow as 13 million families have not received their cash aid from the government,” Reyes said.
Reyes appealed to the government to speed up the financial aid, saying the government should ensure assistance to the poor and respect for human rights during the “new normal” as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
500,000 workers affected
More than half a million workers affected by the coronavirus lockdown have received a one-time P5,000 cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment, the agency said Friday.
Data presented at a technical working group meeting of the House of Representatives’ Defeat COVID-19 Committee showed DOLE had distributed more than P2.6 billion to 522,855 beneficiaries under its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program, as of 5 p.m. of April 30.
Meanwhile, 313,700 informal sector workers have received more than P993 million under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Displaced/Underprivileged Workers (TUPAD) disinfection/sanitation project, according to the data.
CAMP has P3.2 billion and TUPAD has P1.1 billion in allocated funds, according to the data. CAMP is for workers in private establishments, while TUPAD is a temporary employment program for underemployed, self-employed, and displaced marginalized workers affected by COVID-19 quarantine measures.
The government should shoulder 75 percent or about P63 billion of the payroll pay of small businesses adversely affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to the pandemic, said Senator Imee Marcos.
Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on economic reforms, said the government would need P63 billion to subsidize the wages of about 5 million workers.
The government, Marcos said, could well afford the wage subsidy because it had huge savings from the 2019 budget and collections for this year.
Under the “Sagip Sahod,” she said the government could help small industries to resume operations after the lockdown due to COVID-19.
Marcos also said she wanted the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” be amended to also give risk allowance to other frontliners like garbage collectors and those working in the media industry.
.AS this developed, Sen. Christopher Go urged the national and local governments to begin drawing up a stable and conducive policy environment that would entice stakeholders and investors to start businesses in the provinces to support the plan for the implementation of a “Balik Probinsya” program after the country overcomes the COVID-19 crisis.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said the government needed to speed up urgent as well as long-term help for the 2.2 million Filipinos rendered jobless by COVID-19 and the subsequent halt in most economic activities.
During Labor Day Friday, also the first day of the third extension of the enhanced community quarantine, Pangilinan said this was a unique day workers were not together in the factory, office and roads. and even in farms, sea, roads and construction site.
Due to ECQ, he pointed out that 2.2 million lost their jobs. Also rendered jobless were the 200,000 OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).
“We welcome the labor department’s workplace protection and COVID prevention plan, as well as its recovery plan to create one million jobs in the provinces,” he added.
On Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the recovery plan under discussion would also provide “a three-month wage subsidy to workers in micro and small-scale enterprises, including those in the ‘gig’ economy and members of the mass media.”
Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay warned that uncertainties might grip the labor sector under the “new normal” as the world raced to find a cure for COVID-19 which has infected over 3.3 million people and killed more than 234,000 others.
Definitely, she said the “new normal” would have an impact on the most vulnerable, disrupt the labor market and disengage millions more from the informal sector without means to continue with their livelihood.
She stressed that the shift to the “new normal” would determine which industries could get back to work.
Due to this, Binay said it was critical that “we in government--together with movers in the private sector--support the Filipino workforce as they face new challenges in this trying time.”
“We must be enablers, not disablers, who will strengthen our workers’ competitive edge,” she said.