Urban poor most devastated by pandemic, lockdowns

Five months into the community quarantine, concerns are mounting for urban poor communities across Metro Manila as they don’t have enough support to cope during the coronavirus pandemic.


They claimed their already difficult lives have worsened with no means to support themselves in this time of public health crisis.

“The situation in Baseco has worsened especially for those of us who have family members that tested COVID-19 positive,” Jeorgie Tenolete, president of Kabalikat ng Kaunlaran sa Baseco (Kabalikat) said.

As of Wednesday, he noted 18 families were placed under 14-day home quarantine “without any aid from the government.”

“Since they cannot go out to work, they suffer from hunger, loneliness, and fear of the repercussions of COVID-19,” said Tenolete.

In Baseco, Manila, strict protocols of home quarantine are observed because it has 22,000 urban poor families.

Some 400 family members from Kabalikat only depend on their urban gardens for their food supply, mostly vegetables. 

Poverty incidence in urban areas took a big hit from the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This left informal workers to lose their jobs and rely heavily on government assistance.

A recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed 79 percent of adult Filipinos’ quality of life worsened and 27.3 million were out of work in July. 

Bernadette Sabalza, leader of Samahang Magkakapitbahay sa Slip Zero, a people’s organization in North Harbor, Tondo, feared they will die from hunger if not from COVID-19.

 “For our families to survive, we go to Divisoria and the pier to pick up or scavenge for vegetables and bananas that are not sold. We never experienced this before the lockdown,” she said.

”Sometimes when I go around the community, I can’t help but cry. The next morning, I would go again to Divisoria to pick up any food that I can get, to share with the community. That is all we can do to survive,” she narrated. 

While the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has already begun the distribution of the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP), Camarin Balikatan Community Association secretary Marilou Aquino said they haven’t received the cash aid.

The urban poor groups, affiliated with Urban Poor Associated, appealed to the government to provide them support in these difficult times.