MANILA – A lawmaker on Tuesday stressed the need to provide a rapid disbursement mechanism in the distribution of emergency subsidies under the proposed “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” to battle the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In an aide-memoire addressed to the House leadership, House Ways and Means chair Joey Salceda said different conduits and channels must be considered for the distribution of the proposed emergency assistance worth PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to around 18 million low-income households for two months.
“We must keep everyone on the boat. If we will heal as one, as the bill hopes to do, no one must be left behind. So, the lists have to be as inclusive as possible. The principle that must be adopted is primarily humanitarian,” Salceda said.
“Dapat makarating sa nangangailangan (It should reach those who need it the most). So, our lists must cover the target sectors entirely. That’s why I’m proposing the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) that we consider referring to different conduits and different lists, tapos cross-check na lang (then it should just be cross-checked),” he added.
Salceda also suggested to open up the grants for application.
“If you can prove na nasaktan ka ng enhanced community quarantine at magugutom ka kapag walang assistance (that you are severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine and you would starve if you don’t receive assistance), you should qualify,” he said.
He noted that coming up with a list would be challenging since it would require targeting of subsidy funds and integration of databases.
“But the need for assisting quarantined family is urgent so you will have to give out benefits as soon as possible to the sectors that you have already captured, and then open the lists for possible addition, using other lists and an open application system,” he said.
Salceda cited that the Tax Reform Cash Transfer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Covid Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment can be good primary vehicles.
“Isa po sa mga achievement ng TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law) was we enacted the broadest social amelioration program in Philippine history. Now, we can use as a foundation for subsidies like this. 10 million households na po yan, of the envisioned 18 million beneficiary households for an emergency subsidy,” he said.
“With CAMP, you just present proof that you are in need, and you are assisted. This is a good model that can be expanded for the emergency subsidy. Mukhang kailangan po nating lakihan ang CAMP ng DOLE (We have to expand the coverage of DOLE’s Camp), especially some estimates say we could lose 370,000 jobs,” he added.
Other conduits and lists include the Tulong Panghanap-buhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), “self-employed” lists of the Social Security System (SSS), sole proprietors, and “gig” workers, the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) for farmers and fisherfolk, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s data on barangay officials and barangay health workers.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved on third reading Senate Bill 1418, seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte the necessary powers to address the coronavirus outbreak.
The House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the bill to fast-track its passage and do away with the holding of a bicameral conference meeting between the two Houses.
The measure has been transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature. (PNA)