Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go called on the government to take steps in expediting the release of financial assistance to displaced workers through the Department of Labor and Employment and vulnerable sectors through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
He said the time is of the essence, especially with many Filipinos have been sidelined due to the enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health and as a member of the Joint Oversight Committee that oversees the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go said there should be no politics involved in the distribution of aid and that the funds must be allocated fairly and distributed equitably, especially among the poorest of the poor.
“Ang mga ahensya tulad ng DSWD dapat mamahala sa pagbibigay ng tulong. Ang mga pulitiko hindi dapat makialam. Huwag niyo po haluan ng pulitika dahil mas humahaba pa ang proseso. Huwag na natin pahirapan pa ang mga tao, pabilisin na natin ang pagbigay ng tulong sa kanila,” Go said.
(Government agencies such as the DSWD, should supervise the distribution of relief assistance. Politicians must not interfere. Don’t let politics get in the way because the processing becomes longer. Let us not burden our people, let us speed up the distribution of assistance to them.)
Go said the priority now is to be able to provide immediate healthcare needs to solve the health problem and defeat the virus and, at the same time, to provide cash and food assistance to those who are affected the most by the crisis.
“With the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the bulk of government spending is now allocated to DOH (Department of Health) for immediate healthcare needs, DSWD for social assistance especially for affected vulnerable sectors, and DOLE for assistance to displaced workers,” Go said.
The Senator noted that the law has already given the necessary authority and flexibility to the government to use the funds as deemed necessary to respond and address the growing threats of Covid-19, and the economic impact that comes with it.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and as a member of the Joint Oversight Committee, Go said he assures that the funds are properly used, prodding those concerned government agencies to provide the needs of those affected by the pandemic.
“Alalayan rin natin ang mga displaced at informal economy workers – mga vendors at Public Utility Vehicle drivers, tulad ng mga namamasada ng taxi, tricycle, bus, jeep at iba pa. Pati na rin po ang mga trisikad, pedikab, habal-habal at mga nagtatrabaho sa Transportation Network Vehicle Services o TNVS, katulad ng Grab, Angkas, Joyride. Lalong lalo na po ang mga kababayan natin na ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ o ‘no work, no pay’ – mga daily wage earners na kinailangang tumigil sa pagtatrabaho para maging ligtas mula sa pagkalat ng sakit na ito,” he said.
(We would also support our displaced informal workers– the vendors and public utility vehicle drivers like those who drive taxi, tricycle, bus, and jeep and the like. Those who worked in the transportation network services or TNVS like Grab, Angkas, Joyride, especially those who are in ‘no work, no pay’ scheme, the daily wage earners who have to stop working to contain the spread of this disease.)
Citing the burden placed on Filipinos as they go through the enhanced quarantine measures, Go said it is the responsibility of the government to secure and sustain their needs as their lives grind to a halt.
“Responsibilidad natin na alagaan ang ating mga kababayan na pinilit nating hindi lumabas ng kanilang mga bahay. Nag-impose tayo ng strict measures para maprotektahan ang kalusugan nila pero hindi dapat doon nagtatapos ang responsibilidad natin sa pag-aalaga sa kanila,” he said.
(It is our responsibility to take care of our countrymen that we force not to go out of their homes. We impose strict measures to protect their health but our responsibility to them does not stop there.)
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management has requested for the release of a budget amounting to PHP2.84 billion for the benefit of displaced workers through DOLE.
The funds for DOLE are intended “to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 among affected the private sector employees who have no or insufficient leave credits and are required to undergo community quarantine, among others.”
Go said as the country continues to fight to contain the Covid-19 transmission, the government must take care of poor Filipinos who are becoming hungry and restless.
Over 85 percent of the requested fund of DBM that will be given to DOLE will be allotted for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers and Government Internship Program (TUPAD-GIP).
TUPAD is a community-based package of assistance in the municipality or barangay level that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed, and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of ten days but not to exceed 30 days, depending on the nature of the work to be performed.
On the other hand, GIP provides opportunities for young workers to serve the general public in government agencies or entities’ projects and programs at the national and local levels.
Go said the will also closely monitor the provision of the cash and food aid to low-income Filipino families as part of the Social Amelioration Program, based on the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
“As a member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, pursuant to the provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, it is my duty to scrutinize how the Executive spends the funds we allowed to be used to combat Covid-19. Every single peso has to be accounted for,” Go said. (PNA)