Bello says DOLE 'short' of funds for lockdown-hit workers; seeks realignment approval

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2021 04:09 PM

Bello says DOLE 'short' of funds for lockdown-hit workers; seeks realignment approval 1
People waiting to get vaccinated crowd the entrance of a COVID-19 vaccination site in Pulang Lupa Uno, C5 extension Road, Las Piñas City on Aug. 2, 2021. Hundreds of people, mostly seafarers and cruise ship workers, queued as early as 2 a.m. for a chance to get vaccinated as the country experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN/File

MANILA - The Labor Department is seeking approval for its proposed budget realignment to fill the gap in funding for programs meant to assist workers who will be affected by the new Metro Manila lockdown, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Tuesday. 

Some 167,000 workers are expected to be affected by the enhanced community quarantine in the capital region from Aug. 6 to 20, which will be implemented to curb the spread of the more contagious new COVID-19 Delta variant.

The Department of Labor and Employment offers aid programs for both formal and informal workers but funds are "short," Bello told ANC.

"We are still short of the funds for this program. That is the reason why we are studying the possibility of realigning the funds for our TUPAD, to the program for the formal workers," Bello said.

"We have pending requests with DBM (Department of Budget and Management)," he added.

TUPAD, or the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers, offers informal workers 10 days of emergency livelihood and are paid equivalent to the minimum wage. 

Formal workers, on the other hand, are guaranteed aid through the agency's CAMP or COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program. 

For formal workers, the companies need to submit a list of displaced workers to DOLE. The agency then will release the funds either directly to the worker or through their employer, Bello said. 

Based on data, the implementation of lockdowns has an impact on unemployment numbers, National Statistician Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said.

Although the unemployment rate remained steady in June at 7.7 percent, the administration's economic managers said there could be a "temporary impact" due to the looming Metro Manila lockdown. 

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua earlier said the economy could lose P105 billion each week that Metro Manila is under lockdown.

The imposition of an ECQ may result in an increase in the number of poor people by up to 177,000 and the unemployed by 444,000, he also said.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Albay Rep. Joey Salceda had said that under the current budget, there was nothing left for "ayuda" or cash aid.

"There's no other recourse but a supplemental budget through Bayanihan 3... The President also does not have unilateral power to realign from the national budget. So, under our existing budgets, we don't have anything for ayuda," Salceda said. 

The House has passed on final reading the proposed Bayanihan 3 last June. It has since been pending at the Senate.

The centerpiece of the proposed legislation is the P216-billion funding for two rounds of cash aid worth P2,000 to be given to each of the 108 million Filipinos regardless of age and economic status, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco had said.

The bill also contains allocations for the following:

  • wage subsidies
  • emergency assistance to quarantine-affected households
  • assistance to displaced workers
  • national nutrition
  • financial assistance to agri-fishery sector and cooperatives
  • medical assistance to indigents
  • local government support
  • free COVID-testing for seafarers and other overseas Filipino workers
  • pension and gratuity fund for retired military and uniformed personnel
  • support to basic and higher education

The bill will be funded and sourced primarily from the unprogrammed funds and savings realized from modified, realigned, or reprogrammed allocations for operational expense of any government agency or instrumentality under the Executive Department.

It will also tap savings from the first 2 Bayanihan Laws and excess revenue collections in any one of the identified tax or non tax revenue sources as well as new revenue collections. 

- with report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

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