By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The social amelioration cluster of the House Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC) has batted for the implementation of “better, people-friendlier” policies, particularly in providing cash aid to the families affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
The DCC’s sub-panel, co-chaired by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte and Leyte 4th district Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, urged government agencies and local government units (LGUs) to work hand-in-hand to ensure the full-blown implementation of assistance programs.
“Moving forward, agencies and LGUs must learn to work together in an integrated fashion, to efficiently create localized and multipurpose programs to address sectoral issues. Synergies and inter-sectoral cooperation must be considered to achieve cost savings, while expanding the base that would benefit from assistance programs,” the Cluster said in its 12-page draft report.
“Hopefully, better, people-friendlier policies are implemented especially in providing cash assistance, knowing the welfare of affected families is of paramount importance, ” read the report.
The Cluster noted that its report is “far from complete and comprehensive” as there are many relevant sectors that have not been considered, including tourism and health care.
Saying that the COVID-19 situation has redefined the concept of ‘poor families,’ the DCC subcommittee proposed the creation of a localized list of “newly poor” families who have drastically reduced to no income due to the COVID-19 situation.
“This phenomenon ushers in a new class of “newly poor” families. Since this is so new, there is no such list. The LGUs maybe in the best position to create this list of families whose breadwinners have drastically reduced or totally lost incomes altogether,” it said.
The sub-panel urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to “take care of giving” social amelioration cash assistance to about four to five million household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
It also suggested that senior citizens living alone must have their basic needs delivered with medical assistance if needed, noting that there are 10 million senior citizens in the country of whom 3.8 million are indigent.
The Cluster also asked the DSWD to come up with a list of basic goods needed by a family of five to survive per week, with peso costing per set.
“At present, there is no standardized list of what consists as ‘basic necessities for a family of five’, ” it noted.
The sub-committee also said the provision of personnel protective equipment (PPEs) and hygiene products should be part of household basic necessities.
“Many families live in tightly packed quarters, with most likely no room to spare as a quarantine room for a household member with symptoms. For household with members who are essential workers, the lack of protective gear such as face mask and 70-percent alcohol, may increase the risk of infecting family members,” the Cluster said.
The Cluster also called on each LGU to designate a COVID-safe hospital or medical city that will cater to the needs of seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women, and mothers and their children.
It also cited the need for fishermen to be exempt from curfew and that food producers must be given priority when moving perishable goods between municipalities and provinces.
“The agri-food and fisheries sectors may need to enlist the help of the youth sector in carrying out the most crucial job of feeding the nation,” it added.
In its report, the Cluster asked the Department of Education (DepEd) to create a comprehensive plan to address issues hounding basic education, including testing, grading, and project work.
“DepEd could partner with telecommunications providers Smart and Globe in providing connectivity to schools, especially in hard-to-access areas,” it said.