MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has stopped accepting applications for its cash aid program for private sector workers affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced this on Thursday, April 16, saying that DOLE stopped accepting applications as of 5 pm on Wednesday, April 15.
“The labor department has been swamped with volumes of requests that the available fund for the program amounting to P1.6 billion is very close to being depleted,” Bello said.
Under DOLE’s coronavirus adjustment measures program, private firms can apply for a one-time P5,000 cash aid for their workers to augment the salaries of employees affected by the Luzon-wide lockdown that began on March 17 and has been extended to April 30.
Bello sought for public understanding, as he explained that the number of people seeking assistance “ballooned” after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, which was initially supposed to end on April 12.
“We seek the full understanding of employers and workers who were unable to receive the assistance. The requests simply ballooned beyond the capacity of DOLE’s resources,” he said.
DOLE has so far disbursed a total of P1.2 billion to 236,412 workers of 10,663 firms. Some 86,563 workers have yet to be given cash aid, Bello said.
In the meantime, Bello said that DOLE is working with other agencies, as well as Congress, in looking for an alternative program to help the workers who will not get any cash aid from DOLE.
“DOLE is now moving fast its recovery plan for workers and employers to cope up with the ‘new normal’ after the ECQ. We are preparing a menu of programs that will complement national efforts to effectively address the needs of the people,” Bello said.
Millions have been told to stay at home, as Luzon and other local government units in Visayas and Mindanao imposed lockdowns due to the coronavirus oubreak.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Philippines had 5,453 coronavirus cases, 349 of whom have died. At least 353 have recovered from the virus. – Rappler.com