By Charissa Luci-Atienza and Mario Casayuran
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has decided to include barangay health workers (BHWs), barangay tanods, and barangay Day-Care workers as “target beneficiaries” of the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP), “subject to proper screening.”
In a two-page memorandum signed by DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista dated April 17, he directed the inclusion of the barangay health workers, barangay tanods, and barangay Day-Care workers in the emergency subsidy program.
He said the decision was arrived at after the Department of th Interior and Local Government (DILG) “recommended their inclusion,” given that they are “subminimum wage earners” and belong to the “disadvantaged or vulnerable sectors.”
“Given the foregoing, the undersigned adopts the recommendation of the DILG and therefore, directs the DSWD SAP Implementers to include the above-mentioned sectors as target beneficiaries of the SAP, subject to proper screening in accordance to Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2020,” read Bautista’s memorandum issued to DSWD Central Office (CO); Office, Bureau, Service or Unit (OBSUs); and regional offices.
In a statement, BHW party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co thanked the DSWD and DILG for including the BHWs in the SAP.
“Malaking bagay para sa mga BHW na mapabilang sa mabebenepisyuhan ng Social Amelioration Program. Mula sa mahihirap na pamilya ang karamihan sa ating mga BHWs (It is a big help that they are included as among those who will benefit from the Social Amelioration Program. Our BHWs come from poor families),” she said.
She said BHWs are also COVID-19 frontliners, as they are stationed at health care centers and checkpoints.
“Sa ngalan ng barangay health workers sa buong bansa, taos-pusong nagpapasalamat ang BHW Partylist sa DSWD at DILG, lalo na kina Secretary Rolando Bautista, Secretary Eduardo Año, at Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya sa pagmamalasakit nila sa mga BHWs (In behalf of all barangay health workers nationwide, the BHW partylist expressed its heartfelt gratitude to the DSWD, DILG, especially to Secretary Rolando Bautista, Secretary Eduardo Año, and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya for their concern to our BHWs),” Co said.
Subsidy for middle class hailed
As this developed, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, commended concerned government agencies over the implementation of a small business wage subsidy (SBWS) program for small businesses in an effort to support the middle class and cushion the economy against the negative effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa ating finance agencies dahil dininig nila ang ating apila na suportahan ang mga MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises). Tulungan natin ang mga ito na buhayin ang kanilang negosyo dahil sila rin ang bubuhay sa ating ekonomiya lalo na kapag natapos na ang krisis na ito (We thank our finance agencies for hearing our appeals that MSMEs need help. We must help the MSMEs that eventually improve the economy, especially when the current medical emergency is over),” Go said.
“Hindi lamang po ito malaking tulong sa ating maliliit na negosyo, malaking tulong din po ito para maiahon ang kanilang mga empleyado na karamihan ay galing sa lower middle class (It does not only help the small businesses but will also help their employees who are mostly in the lower middle class),” he added.
The program, which will cost the government P51 billion, is set to benefit 3.4 million workers whose MSME employers will be identified and assessed through the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Social Security System (SSS).
The Department of Finance (DOF) noted that workers of these small businesses belong to the low- to mediummiddle class.
The DOF said the subsidy will be for up to two months, unless the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted earlier, and will cost a total of P51 billion.
At present, an on-line system for business owners to submit the names of their eligible employees through the SSS website is being pilot-tested and could go live within the week.
To avoid duplication and to ensure that more Filipinos benefit from various government programs, Go said that the beneficiaries of the subsidy program for MSME employees must be different from the eighteen million poor families being assisted by the DSWD and must not also overlap with those affected workers already being assisted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Huwag natin pabayaan ang iba pang mga apektadong Pilipino na nangangailangan rin ng tulong (Let us not forget other Filipinos who need help),” Go said.
He had earlier urged the DOF and other concerned agencies to immediately implement measures that would also help the middle class overcome this predicament.