SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has urged the government to immediately take further 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.
“Mahirap maging mahirap lalo na sa panahon ngayon na walang trabaho dahil sa enhanced community quarantine, kaya dapat nating bilisan ang ating aksyon para maibigay na sa taumbayan, lalo na sa mahihirap, ang kaukulang tulong para sa kanila,” Go said.
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 emphasized that 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.
“Dapat mabilisang maibigay na ang tulong sa panahon ng krisis dahil iyan ang layunin ng batas. Wala dapat pinipili ang tulong, siguraduhin po natin na makarating ito sa pinakamahihirap at pinakanangangailangan,” he added.
Go emphasized that 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 this crisis.
“With the passage of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, bulk of government spending is now allocated to DOH for immediate healthcare needs, DSWD for social assistance especially for affected vulnerable sectors, and DOLE for assistance to displaced workers,” Go mentioned.
The Senator emphasized that the law has already given the necessary authority and flexibility to the government to utilize 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, sisiguraduhin ko na nagagamit nang tama ang pondo at pupukpukin ko ang mga ahensya na aksyunan agad ang pangangailangan ng mga Pilipinong apektado ngayon,” Go said.
Go reminded concerned agencies to fulfill their mandates and act swiftly in this time of crisis to make sure that the assistance from government reaches the poorest of the poor and those who need government attention the most.
“Tulad sa Department of Agriculture, gawin natin ang lahat para masigurong walang magugutom na Pilipino. Make sure we have sufficient supply of food... Sa Department of Trade and Industry, please ensure the unhampered movement of basic goods and necessities,” Go reiterated.
“Para naman sa DSWD at iba pang ahensya na nakatutok sa mga ordinaryong Pilipino, siguruhin natin na makakarating ang tulong sa mga taong pinaka-nangangailangan – ang mga taong walang maaasahang iba, mga walang trabaho, at ‘yung mga walang savings. Tutukan natin ang mga vulnerable groups, tulad ng senior citizens, persons with disabilities, at indigent indigenous peoples,” he said.
“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 added.
Citing the burden placed on Filipinos as they go through the enhanced quarantine measures, Go said that 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.
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management has requested for the release of a budget amounting to P2.84 billion for the benefit of displaced workers through DOLE.
The funds for DOLE are intended “to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 among affected private sector employees who have no or insufficient leave credits and are required to undergo community quarantine, among others.”
The senator further said that as the country continues to fight and control the transmission of COVID-19, government must take care of poor Filipinos who are becoming hungry and restless.
“Huwag nating hayaang magutom ang mamamayang Pilipino na walang ibang pinili kundi sundin ang protocol. Pinilit natin silang manatili sa bahay kaya siguraduhin natin na mabibigyan sila ng tulong at seguridad upang mabuhay,” the senator added.
Over 85% 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 level.
"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.