'Gov't assistance during Boracay closure not enough' – residents
AKLAN, Philippines – As residents availing of financial assistance flood government centers, some still point out that it is still not enough.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started giving out transportation allowances to residents of Boracay who have to return to different hometowns starting Monday, April 23. The request for assistance range from P1,000 to P5,000 per individual.
But some complained that the transportation allowance granted by the DSWD is not enough, especially to those travelling far from the island. (READ: LIST: New Boracay rules during 6-month closure)
Omaima Magarang, 45, owns a family-ran souvenir shop in Station 3. Magarang hails from Marawi City – now reduced to rubble due to the war.
With the promise of transportation aid, she said that she'd rather take it than be stuck in an island without a steady revenue. But what she would get could not even buy her a ferry ticket to Marawi.
"It's not enough. We are 6 in the family. They gave me P2,100 but during the interview I was told I can receive around P1,000 more. But it can't buy us ferry tickets," Magarang told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino.
According to her, one 2GO ferry ticket used to range around P1,500 to P1,700. "Now it's almost P3,000 per ticket coming from Boracay," she said, blaming the untimely closure of the island for the spike in fares.
Magarang's only hope is for rehabilitation works to finish early, so that they can come back and reopen their shop. (READ: Less than a week to go: Boracay braces for 6-month closure)
"I really hope that Boracay opens earlier. We will only keep our stocks as we can't sell it anywhere else. I hope it's still in good condition to be sold when the island reopens. We could only make ends meet because of our earnings," she said.
DSWD Aklan operations center head Joey Urquiola told Rappler in an interview that transportation allowance is dependent on how far the resident has to travel from Boracay.
"There was a resident complaining earlier that we only gave him P500 as he expected to receive P5,000. But he lived near the island. That's why we conduct interviews so we can allocate funds to others who will be needing it," Urquiola told Rappler in Filipino.
He added that the transportation allowance provided already included a meal allowance too.
In the two days they have been operating, he had attended to a couple of residents who complained that the assistance was not enough.
But Urquiola also pointed out that they lacked funds, as they are currently operating with their regular budget for the year.
"We are currently operating on regular funds because there is no proclamation yet. The proclamation would've allowed us to tap on calamity funds. It would address lack of manpower here at the operations center," he said.
According to the operations head, they had processed some 1,500 residents asking for assistance on Monday, out of the 17,735 formal workers, 2,005 informal workers, and 1,117 members of cooperatives profiled.
He said they expect a surge in the applications for financial aid when Boracay closes on April 26.
Malacañang earlier downplayed the absence of a written Boracay closure order, an executive order on the closing down of the island and a proclamation of a state of calamity.
Declaring Boracay under a state of calamity would allow the government to disburse around P2 billion from the country's calamity fund, which government agencies need to fund operations during the closure.
The country's economy is estimated to lose a total of P1.96 billion during the 6-month closure, with Western Visayas bearing the brunt according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. – Rappler.com