Duterte: Cash aid for displaced workers by Christmas

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte: Cash aid for displaced workers by Christmas
During the Cabinet briefing on Monday on the government response to the areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Rolly over the weekend, Duterte had asked Bello if he had distributed P13 billion worth of cash assistance for the displaced workers.
STAR / Walter Bollozos, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to make sure that workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic who have not received government assistance under the Bayanihan 2 Act will be able to get their ayuda (cash assistance) by Christmas.

During the Cabinet briefing on Monday on the government response to the areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Rolly over the weekend, Duterte had asked Bello if he had distributed P13 billion worth of cash assistance for the displaced workers.

“What I’m really driving at is I want the money in the hands of the beneficiaries by Christmas time,” the President told Bello. “I hope (the cash assistance) reaches them in time for Christmas. Life’s so hard now… at least, if we are able to help, let us give it to them.”

Bello, who was in a video conference from Isabela, assured the President that payout will start between Nov. 15 and 20.

“I remember giving you so many billions. I don’t have so much to say, except that it gets into the hands of the beneficiaries by Christmastime, at least they have some funds to spare by December,” the President said.

Apart from local workers, Bello said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their children are also beneficiaries.

“Yes, Mr. President. Our payout will be at the latest Nov. 15, including the P 1 billion to CHED (Commission on Higher Education) for the children of displaced overseas workers,” he said.

Bello said the labor department has entered into an agreement with the CHED to work on providing assistance to deserving students.

“We were able to enter a Memorandum of Agreement with CHED. They have the funds, they will give it to us so that we may give it to the children of displaced OFWs at the rate of P13,000 per child because we are targeting 30,000 scholars,” he said.

Bello also reported that the government has distributed about P3.1 billon of the P5-billion initial fund for OFWs.

“The P5 billion that you gave for the OFWs is pushing through; and as per our report this morning, we were already able to pay out P3.1 billion,” Bello said.

The Department of Budget and Management has released P13 billion under the Bayanihan 2 fund. The amount will go to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s COVID Adjustment Measures Program or CAMP where there are 993,432 affected workers in the formal sector who will receive a one-time aid of P5,000.

About P6 billion is allocated for the Tulong Panghahanap Buhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program or TUPAD, a community-based assistance which aims to cover 800,000 workers in the informal sector.

Under TUPAD, at least 5,000 typhoon-displaced workers in Catanduanes are to be provided with emergency employment, according to DOLE.

“I will spend the amount to hire at least 5,000 people to clean the streets and and debris of Typhon Rolly,” Bello said in response to the request of Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua.

Under the department’s Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong or AKAP program, some 200,000 displaced OFWs will be given P10,000 each.

Those who have been given cash aid under Bayanihan 1 will no longer be eligible for the said programs, the DOLE said.

Enough funds for Rolly relief

Malacañang assured the public yesterday that the government has enough funds for relief and response operations for the victims of Super Typhoon Rolly, which ravaged many areas in the Bicol region and other provinces in Southern Tagalog last weekend.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) can tap P3.622 billion of its calamity funds to help victims of the super typhoon.

“Just what (Budget) Secretary (Wendel) Avisado said yesterday, there is still P3.622-billion available funds with NDRRMC,” he said.

Roque added the President was satisfied with the response of the concerned agencies which acted swiftly to help distressed residents during the typhoon.

“The President is very happy to note that everyone did their job to warn people, to evacuate, to prepare evacuation centers, to preposition supplies, to preposition equipment to prepare roads,” Roque said at a press briefing yesterday.

Duterte conducted an inspection in Albay last Monday before holding a meeting with NDRRMC officials and the Cabinet in Manila.

Gov’t COVID-19 spending

Meanwhile, total releases by the national government to fight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reached P471.71 billion as of end October, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Data from the DBM showed a total of P386.14 billion was released during the effectivity of Republic Act 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1), and P7.58 billion released shortly after the law expired on June 25.

Under Bayanihan 1, President Duterte was authorized to discontinue programs in the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Act to generate savings for COVID-19 response.

The Chief Executive was also authorized to reallocate or realign cash, funds, investments, including unutilized subsidies held by government-owned and controlled corporations, to address the health emergency.

The DBM has so far released P77.98 billion under RA 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) signed by President Duterte last Sept. 11. – Mayen Jaymalin, Lawrence Agcaoili

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