By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has called on the national government to ensure that qualified beneficiaries, from the poor to the middle class, will receive financial and livelihood assistance as the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stalks the country.
Go said the government must do its best to ensure that various programs are immediately implemented to benefit the affected sectors of the society.
He is chairman of the Senate health and demography committee and a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight
Committee that monitors the implementation of the ‘’Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.’’
“Ang prayoridad natin ngayon ay mabigyan ng ayuda ang pinaka-mahihirap. ‘Yung mga hindi maisama sa 18 million families para sa emergency cash subsidy, mayroon ring mga programa ang gobyerno na makakatulong sa iba pang mga apektadong mamamayan,’’ Go said. (Our priority now is to ensure that the poorest of the poor gets assistance.
Those who cannot be accommodated in the 18 million families for the emergency cash subsidy, shall be included in other programs of the government intended for the other affected citizens.) Starting from the poorest of the poor, around 18 million Filipino family-beneficiaries are receiving assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) for two months under the Social Amelioration Program.
“Pupunta rin tayo sa lower-middle class, uunahin ng Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yung tulong sa mga affected overseas Filipino workers, pati itong sa mga empleyado (ng pribadong sector,’’ he explained. (We will also go to the lower-middle class, the DOLE will prioritize the grant for the affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the employees [of the private sector.)
DOLE has an existing COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program for affected workers in the formal sector and it consists of a one-time P5,000 cash assistance and employment facilitation services. For affected workers in the informal sector, DOLE is extending them temporary employment through its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating
Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko Disinfection/Sanitation Project or the TUPAD #BKBK program.
The Department of Finance (DOF) is preparing a list of qualified beneficiaries through the Bureau of Internal Revenue for its subsidy program for employees of MSMEs that are totally or partially closed due to the crisis.
They will be paid directly through various modes, including through SSS (Social Security System) Unified Multi-Purpose Identification Card enrolled as ATM, bank account, e-wallet or cash pick-up. Amount of assistance may range from P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the regional wage rates.
Based on data from DOF, there are around 1.6 million businesses in the country’s formal sector. Some 436,300 of them were forced to stop operations. Affected workers are estimated at 3.4 million nationwide.
Meanwhile, Go also thanked the private companies which have extended help to boost the country’s efforts in the fight against the virus.
Go also reiterated his appeal to the private sector, particularly big businesses, to help augment the assistance to the middle class by taking care of their respective employees and communities.
“This assistance prioritizes those at the bottom, the poorest, most vulnerable and the displaced. It trickles up as the government prepares assistance to SME (small- and medium-sized enterprises) as well,” he said.
“It is thus my hope that those on top — the rich and the big businesses — will continue to meet us halfway by keeping on augmenting the aid coming from government as well as by taking care of their communities and employees,” he added.