Gov’t vows sustained support for workers displaced by quarantine

Published April 27, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling 

The government has vowed to inject more funds to provide sustained relief assistance for workers displaced by the quarantine measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that while the Department of Labor and Employment has ran out of funds for its financial aid program for workers, it shall implement other assistance programs.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque 

He said the government recently launched the P51-billion wage subsidy program for 3.4 million workers in small businesses to help them cope with the national health emergency. The application period for small business wage subsidy program is scheduled between April 16 to May 8.

“Totoo na naubos ‘yung pondo ng DOLE pero ang pampalit natin diyan yung tulong sa SMEs (small and medium enterprises) ‘yung 51 billion. Kaya nga po. yung nakakuha na sa DOLE, isang buwan na lang makukuha nila dito sa tulong sa SMEs na sa P8,000 (It is true that the funds of DOLE ran out but the replacement is our assistance for the SMEs – the P51 billion program). To those who already benefited from the DOLE, you will be entitled to only one month subsidy of around P8,000 under the SME program),” Roque said during a virtual press conference.

As of April 25, Roque noted that the labor department spent P1.7 billion for the one-time financial aid for 345,865 workers affected by the coronavirus lockdown. Around 259,449 workers benefited from the emergency employment program amounting to P1.14 billion.

He said the labor department also implemented the P1.5 billion cash assistance program for 150,000 overseas Filipino workers whose jobs were affected by the pandemic. Under the program, each worker is given a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid.

“Kung kulang pa ‘yan, hahanap tayo ng pondo para bigyan ng ayuda ang lahat ng OFW (If that will not be enough, we will look for (other) funds to give assistance to all OFWs),” Roque said.

The labor department recently announced that more than two million workers have been displaced as a result of the business closures or reduced operations due to the coronavirus lockdown. As of April 24, around 1.4 million were displaced due to temporary closures of establishments while more than 687,000 workers had lower incomes due to alternative working arrangements of their companies.

More than 230,000 OFWS affected by the pandemic have also asked for government assistance, according to the DOLE.