MANILA, Philippines – The Silvertino family in Calabanga, Camarines Sur, finally received the cash aid that they were due to receive from the national government during the pandemic. The head of the family, their breadwinner, wasn’t there to receive it, however.
Michelle Silvertino, a single mother, died in Pasay City while waiting for several days for a bus that would bring her home to Bicol. (READ: Planning to leave your province or the metro under GCQ? What you should know)
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said in a press release on Thursday, June 11, that it had released cash aid to her family, who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as well as the emergency subsidy program for the coronavirus crisis.
DSWD’s field office in Bicol reached out to Marlyn Silvertino, Michelle’s mother, to deliver the subsidy amounting to P15,400.
The family will also receive the following forms of assistance from the DSWD:
Access to livelihood through DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) for Michelle’s brother and sister, who are now the guardians of her 4 children
Educational assistance for the 3 children who are in grade school
Food assistance for 10 days.
The DSWD said it would also “assess the children and explore alternative child care, as necessary.”
Zenaida Soriano of the National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) said Michelle’s case showed the “overlapping problem of absence of genuine rural development and the government’s sluggish pandemic response, especially to the needs of the poor and marginalized Filipinos.”
Soriano said Michelle’s case was just one of the many stories of risks that rural folk have to take just to make a living.
Amihan mentioned the situations of farmers and fisherfolk who are subject to the control of landlords and large corporations – some who fall victim to land-grabbing, displacement, and human rights abuses.
“Unless these problems are resolved, more Michelle’s will go to urban centers to work as kasambahay (househelp), labandera (laundry workers), tindera (shopkeepers), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and other jobs even for a meager income,” said Soriano.
“Michelle Silvertino’s death is an injustice committed by this insensitive government. Thus, we should hold this government accountable and demand for immediate medical and socio-economic response amid the pandemic,” she added.
Recent reports say at least 100 stranded passengers have camped out for days outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.