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COVID-19 WATCH

Swift assistance delivery amid COVID crisis urged

Around 18 million Filipino family-beneficiaries are receiving assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development under the Social Amelioration Program.

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Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged concerned national government agencies on Monday to assure the public that qualified beneficiaries – from the poor to middle class citizens – will receive financial and livelihood assistance amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement, the senator advised the government to do its best to ensure that various programs are immediately implemented to benefit the affected sectors of society while the country continues to battle the spread of the deadly disease.

Go also stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte is already meeting with his finance managers to discuss the next steps the government should take to ensure that those most affected by the crisis — including the middle class and small businesses — get the assistance they need to survive.

The lawmaker – who is also chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee that monitors the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act – noted that starting from the poorest of the poor, around 18 million Filipino family-beneficiaries are receiving assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for two months under the Social Amelioration Program.

He said that the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will make sure that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and private sector employees, as well as the lower-middle class citizens, will get the assistance that they need.

The Labor department has an existing COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program for affected workers in the formal sector and it consists of a one-time P5,000 cash assistance and employment facilitation services.

Meantime, affected workers in the informal sector will have temporary employment through DoLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko Disinfection/Sanitation Project or the TUPAD #BKBK program.

Go said that the Department of Finance (DoF) is preparing a list of qualified beneficiaries through the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for its subsidy program for employees of MSME that are totally or partially closed due to the crisis.

They will be paid directly through various modes, including through SSS Unified Multi-Purpose Identification Card enrolled as ATM, bank account, e-wallet or cash pick-up and the amount of assistance may range from P5,000 to P8,000, depending on the regional wage rates.

Based on data from the DoF, there are around 1.6 million businesses in the country’s formal sector. Some 436,300 of them were forced to stop operations. Affected workers are estimated at 3.4 million nationwide.

The senator also thanked the private companies which have extended help to boost the country’s efforts in the fight against the virus and reiterated his appeal to the private sector, particularly big businesses, to help augment the assistance to the middle class by taking care of their respective employees and communities.

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