As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and as a member of the Joint Oversight Committee that oversees the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other concerned agencies on Thursday, April 2, to expedite the release of assistance through its Social Amelioration Program to Filipinos, most especially low-income families, members of the vulnerable sector and informal workers.
“Kailangan nang maibigay kaagad ang ayuda ng gobyerno sa mga Pilipino lalong lalo na sa mga informal economy workers at parte ng vulnerable sector dahil habang tumatagal, mas dagdag pasakit pa ito sa problema natin ngayon,” Go said.
According to the Joint Memorandum Circular issued by DSWD and other involved agencies on the provision of social amelioration measures, people who are part of the vulnerable sector include senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant and lactating women, solo parents, overseas Filipinos in distress who were repatriated or banned from traveling outside the country on account of the COVID-19 outbreak, indigent indigenous peoples, and underprivileged sector and homeless citizens whose combined family income falls within the poverty threshold.
Meanwhile, the informal economy workers are the directly hired or occasional workers contracted to do work on an irregular basis; subcontracted workers who are employees of a subcontractor, such as pakyaw workers; homeworkers who perform in or about his home any processing of goods or materials; househelpers or the kasambahay; and drivers of pedicab, tricycle, PUJs, UVs, PUBs, taxi, Transport Network Vehicle Service owned by another person and only subject to a boundary system.
In addition, micro-entrepreneurs and producers, operators of sari-sari stores engaged in business of less than P100,000, family enterprise owners, sub-minimum wage earners, farmers, fishers and farm workers, employees affected by “no work, no pay” policy and not covered by the Department of Labor and Employment, and stranded workers, are also considered as informal economy workers.
Go has emphasized that the law has already given the government the necessary authority to act immediately and accordingly as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to threaten the livelihood of many and the economy of the country.
“Mahirap maging mahirap lalo na sa panahon ngayon na walang trabaho dahil sa enhanced community quarantine, kaya dapat nating bilisan ang ating aksyon para maibigay na sa taumbayan, lalo na sa mahihirap, ang kaukulang tulong para sa kanila,” Go said.
Go reminded DSWD that they must act quickly to fulfill their mandate, provide the necessary assistance, and make sure that these will be distributed, especially to the poorest of the poor.
“Ibigay na agad ang tulong mula gobyerno. Lalong lalo na po ang mga kababayan natin na ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ o ‘no work, no pay’ – mga daily wage earners na kinailangang tumigil sa pagtatrabaho para maging ligtas mula sa pagkalat ng sakit na ito,” he added.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act No. 11469, over 18 million Filipino family beneficiaries will receive such assistance for two months.
According to the DSWD, this assistance will be in the form of cash and in kind. Emergency subsidy for Filipinos range from P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the minimum regional wage rates.
Go emphasized that there should be no politics involved in the distribution of aid and that the funds must be allocated fairly and distributed equitably, especially among who need government assistance most.
“Ang mga ahensya, tulad ng DSWD, dapat mamahala sa pagbibigay ng tulong. Ang mga pulitiko, hindi dapat makialam. niyo po haluan ng pulitika dahil mas humahaba pa ang proseso. Huwag na natin pahirapan pa ang mga tao, pabilisin na natin ang pagbigay ng tulong sa kanila,” Go said.
Meanwhile, DSWD has also stated that aside from the financial assistance, it will also distribute food packs and non-food items.
Over P200 billion will be spent for the largest and widest social protection program in the country to make up for the loss of many sectors amid the COVID-19 crisis.