Around 18 million low-income households affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country will receive the two-time emergency subsidy from the national government starting April, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) announced on Tuesday.
Each eligible family will get government assistance whether in cash or in kind from various social amelioration packages under the emergency subsidy program (ESP), the PCOO said in a press statement.
“(There will be) cash or non-cash subsidy to 18-million low-income household beneficiaries in the amount of at least PHP5,000 to a maximum subsidy of PHP8,000 per month for two months (April and May) for basic food, medicine, and other essentials,” it said.
The PCOO said beneficiaries would be provided a “social amelioration card,” a form distributed by village officials which contains the family profile for them to get access to the government’s social amelioration programs.
It added that the social amelioration card also serves as a “validation tool” to determine the eligible families and a “monitoring tool” to account for the services received by them.
“The Emergency Subsidy shall be distributed through any of the social amelioration programs so long as the total amount from various social amelioration programs does not exceed the prescribed thresholds,” the PCOO said.
The amount of emergency subsidy a poor family can get depends on the minimum wage levels per region.
Low-income households from Metro Manila will receive PHP5,000 each, while those from Central Luzon and Calabarzon will get PHP6,500 each, the PCOO said.
Around PHP6,000 subsidy will be given to each poor family from Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Davao Region, while PHP5,000 worth of assistance will be distributed to each beneficiary from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, and Cagayan Valley, it added.
The PCOO said a subsidy amounting to PHP5,000 will be given to each low-income household residing in Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“The ESP shall be provided by the national government, through various national and local government social amelioration programs, computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates, and taking into account the subsidy amount given under (Social Welfare department’s) conditional cash program and the rice subsidy program, estimated at an average of PHP2,150 per month per family,” it said.
“In this regard, the national government will augment the CCT and rice subsidy in order to reach the applicable emergency subsidy amount,” the PCOO added.
Families qualified to receive the emergency subsidy should have at least one member who is a senior citizen, a person with disability, pregnant or lactating woman, solo parent, or overseas Filipino in distress.
Households who are indigenous peoples or who belong to underprivileged and vulnerable sectors are also qualified to receive the emergency subsidy.
Social amelioration packages
There are 13 social amelioration packages under the emergency subsidy program, the PCOO noted.
The PCOO said one of the social amelioration programs is the distribution of food and non-food items to poor families.
It said eligible family can also avail of “assistance to individuals in crisis situation,” an aid that allows beneficiary to receive an outright cash grant of either PHP3,000 or PHP5,000 and a PHP25,000 burial assistance in case a member of family dies due to Covid-19.
The PCOO said families who have no incomes or savings may also be part of the expanded and enhanced Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
It stressed that qualified Sustainable Livelihood Program family beneficiaries who have at least one member working in the informal sector can receive a one-time grant of a maximum of PHP15,000 when the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.
Another program is Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program that grants “one-time, non-conditional” PHP5,000 financial aid to affected formal workers, regardless of employment status.
The government will also pay informal economy workers’ wages equivalent to 100 percent of the prevailing highest minimum wage in their region, provided they are willing to disinfect select areas for four hours a day for a maximum of 10 days.
Micro, small and medium enterprises operating for at least a year but suffered “drastic reduction in sales” due to Covid-19 crisis may also avail of PHP1-billion financing program, the PCOO noted.
Small enterprises with assets not more than PHP10,000 may get a loan of up to PHP500,000, while micro enterprises may borrow money worth up to PHP200,000, both repayable at a discounted 0.5 percent monthly interest rate.
The PCOO said the government would also impose moratorium on loan payments of small business corporation borrowers.
“Affected borrowers shall be allowed to pay only their interest due for the succeeding six months, but interest rate will continue to accrue throughout the moratorium. The term of their loan shall be extended based on the number of months covered by the moratorium,” it said.
Eligible farmers may also opt to have a one-time provision of PHP5,000 or a loan assistance worth PHP25,000.
Micro and small enterprises engaged in agriculture and fisheries production at a concessionary rate may also seek loan assistance worth PHP300,000 up to 90 percent of their projected cost not exceeding PHP1.5 million.
Micro-entrepreneurs may also receive assistance in the form of enterprise development training, livelihood kit worth between PHP5,000 and PHP8,000, and business counseling.
The PCOO also emphasized that prices of basic necessities should remain frozen at their prevailing price while the entire country is under a state of calamity.
Largest, widest social protection program
In a presidential address on Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said government has allotted PHP200 billion for the largest and widest social protection program in the country’s history.
“The government is now launching the largest and widest social protection program in our country’s history… to make up for the loss of economic opportunities due to the quarantine measures in place for COVID-19,” Duterte said.
Duterte said the PHP200 billion is for low-income households “badly affected” by the Covid-19 crisis.
“Sila ang nasa (They are in the) informal sector and those who live day-to-day on subsistence wages or no-work, no-pay arrangements. Beneficiary-households will receive emergency support for two months based on the regional minimum wage,” Duterte said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Department of Social Welfare and Development would in the coming days roll out details of the PHP200 billion ESP.
“This public health crisis has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many of our countrymen, but government will exert all efforts to ensure that millions of Filipino families are taken care of; di po kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno ninyo (Your government won’t let you down),” Nograles said.
Funds for the ESP will be sourced from the PHP275 billion the government has been allowed to tap under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act.