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Food, financial assistance should be provided to marginalized sector amid Luzon quarantine —senators

Several senators appealed on Wednesday to concerned government agencies and local executives to ensure that the marginalized are not neglected during the implementation of the Luzon-wide community quarantine.

Senator Sonny Angara urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to tap its almost P10-billion quick response fund and protective services program budget to reach out to the families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

“Sa ganitong sitwasyon na ang mga tao ay hindi na malaman kung saan kukuha ng pera pambili ng pagkain at gamot, nagkakaroon ng mga insidente ng paglabag sa pinapatupad na quarantine," he said in a statement.

"Let us not wait for people to get desperate and start behaving irrationally. Exert all efforts to reach out to them and provide them with their basic requirements right away,” he added.

Last Monday, the DSWD suspended the payouts and distribution of cash cards to its various programs' beneficiaries as a social distancing measure.

Senator Grace Poe  urged the government to ensure proper allocation of funds, giving priority to the much-needed equipment of hospitals to serve the growing number of infected patients, the protective gears and food of healthcare workers and other frontliners, and the procurement of testing kits.

The declaration of state of calamity will allow the national government and local government units to tap the quick response fund to augment needed expenses.

"Sa panahong ito, kinakailangan natin ng mas malaking pondo hindi lamang para malabanan at maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit, kundi para mabigyan rin ng karampatang tulong ang ating mga kababayan," Poe said in a statement.

Senator Joel Villanueva said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should  ensure the provision of labor safety nets for the workers in the informal sector.

“Sa isang iglap, nawalan po ng kabuhayan ang ating mga vendors, drivers, at iba pa pang manggagawa sa informal sector. Hinihiling natin sa DOLE na kaagad magpatupad ng programa na sasalo sa ating mga informal workers,” he said in a separate statement.

“Hindi po makikipagsapalaran sa paglabas sa kanilang mga tahanan ang ating mga manggagawa kung alam nila na may tulong na ipapamahagi ang pamahalaan para sa kanilang mga pangangailangan," he added.

The DOLE  rolled out a P1.3-billion financial assistance for 250,000 Filipino workers in the private sector who were affected by temporary closures of establishments amid the COVID-19 situation.

Another P180-million emergency employment program under the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Displaced/Underprivileged Workers (TUPAD) will be offered to 16,000 informal sector workers.

Villanueva suggested that TUPAD beneficiaries could provide support services to law enforcers who are on duty at the quarantine checkpoints, provided that they are given protective gear and training.

He added that the emergency employment program may also involve the disinfection of public spaces, as long the workers are equipped with safety gears. —LDF, GMA News