Aid for displaced school  workers

Published September 16, 2020, 3:49 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The nation’s teachers have been among the many sectors of the population that have suffered most from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

When the lockdowns began in March, with the strictest Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECW) in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, schools were closed down along with offices and businesses of all kinds.  This posed a big problem to students,  especially those who were due to graduate in April.  It also upended  the lives of  the teachers  who suddenly found themselves with no work and no income as schools were closed down all over the country.

With the P165.5-billion Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which President Duterte has just signed into law, the nation’s teachers along with non-teaching personnel in private and public elementary, secondary, and tertiary educational institutions are to receive a one-time aid out of a P300-million fund in the Bayanihan law.

The law also provides  assistance for several other sectors – cash and food assistance to low-income households, hazard pay and  risk allowances for healthcare workers, assistance to displaced public utility drivers, cash and  loan subsidies for  farmers and fisher folk,  cash and medical assistance  for  overseas Filipinos, and funds for shipping home the remains of COVID victims.

Now  that  the  government has  begun to ease the restrictions, Metro Manila is now  under  General Community  Quarantine (GCQ) and should soon be under the more  lenient  Modified General  Community  Quarantine (MGCQ)  by October. There  is  hope that by December,  we will  be “near-normal.”

It has been  a  difficult  and exhausting year for all, but we have  managed to survive with  much fewer infections  and deaths  than  some countries like the United  States, Brazil, Russia, Italy, Spain,  Britain, and  India. The  economic  losses  have been  tremendous and it  will take time for us to recover from them. But we have survived, with the most  vulnerable among us, including the poorest families, receiving   monetary  aid.

Government aid hasn’t  been  available to all who  need it,  but we are glad that our teachers  have been among those who have  received  special  attention in  the Bayanihan  Act  and other assistance and stimulus programs  of the  government.

The pandemic has upset all previous planning of  the government  for various areas of the national  life. There were plans for government salary increases righat the start of the new administration, with  the nation’s uniformed services getting theirs at the start of 2019. The President had then  assured the nation’s teachers: “Kayo  na  ang susunod.”

Many of the government’s plans, including salary adjustments, will  have to be put on hold.  But  the special  aid to the neediest displaced sectors, including the nation’s teachers, in the Bayanihan Law is most welcome  and appreciated.