Gov't readies massive aid program during Luzon quarantine
A group of vegetable and fruit vendors sleep along the sidewalk at Taft Avenue in Manila on Tuesday midnight as they wait for a bus despite the suspension of all public transport in line with the strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Gov't readies massive aid program during Luzon quarantine
Franco Luna ( - March 23, 2020 - 5:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — From informal workers, solo parents to ride-sharing drivers, the government is eyeing to roll out a massive one-time cash transfer program that will see it assist millions of people likely displaced by the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and month-long lockdown of Luzon.

In a 10-page draft guidelines, a copy of which was obtained by, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is readying P3,000 assistance to individual beneficiaries, and a P15,000 cash subsidy to small- and –medium enterprises (SMEs), both of which can only be availed once, during the community quarantine that ends April 12.

A wide range of recipients are expected to benefit from the assistance, including senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, solo parents, indigenous peoples, as well as ride-sharing drivers and even homeless families. 

A household may avail of the subsidy if at least one of their members are qualified. “A family shall only be qualified once regardless of the number of family members belonging to the identified sectors,” the department said in the draft.

The program, once approved, is the first all-encompassing social protection program that would support entrepreneurs and employees whose livelihood have closed and jobs have suffered as a result of the outbreak and month-long community quarantine in Luzon.

The island accounts for around 70% of economic output and around 60% of the projected population as of May 2019, so a halt in business and commerce can have a devastating impact, especially on the poor and unsupported.

DSWD vowed to give “priority attention to “the poor, vulnerable and marginalized” in distributing the planned aid, but no schedule was laid out as to the distribution itself, which can be daunting given the number of beneficiaries included in the program. For perspective, in 2015, there were 7.55 million senior citizens nationwide, government data showed.

That said, the plan provided for different modes of receiving the aid, including direct cash or check payouts, or in the form of food or non-food items which shall be delivered to local government units (LGUs) for distribution to their residents.

Military and police personnel may also be tapped to get the assistance to their target beneficiaries, DSWD said.

Individual beneficiaries would need to present valid IDs to their LGUs to avail of the program. For SMEs and informal workers, the process becomes more tedious, as an application and project proposal would have to be submitted to qualify for the grant.

There was no mention on the total costs of the program, as well as how it would be funded.

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