P300M worker aid still unclaimed: DOLE

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    THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday said P300 million in cash assistance for workers affected by the lockdown prompted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic remain unclaimed in different remittance centers in the country.

    In a virtual press briefing, DOLE spokesman Rolly Francia said the P300 million unclaimed funds are from the department’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), and Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP).

    Francia said the unclaimed amount stands to benefit an estimated 45,000 local and overseas worker beneficiaries.

    “The funds would be wasted if they don’t claim it. Please contact the nearest field office or remittance center near you,” Francia said.

    CAMP is a one-time P5,000 financial assistance to affected formal sector workers in private establishments. Data shows it still has an unclaimed amount of P111.8 million that is good for 21,567 formal sector workers.

    TUPAD, on the other hand, is an emergency employment assistance, for informal sector workers who are paid the minimum wage prevailing in their respective regions.

    DOLE said the program still has P81.78 million funds that can be claimed by 17,110 informal sector workers.

    Meanwhile, AKAP is a one-time US$200 or P10,000 cash aid to displaced sea-based and land-based OFWs.

    Some 10,921 overseas Filipino workers may still benefit from the P109.21 million funds.
    Asked why cash assistance remains unclaimed, Francia cited the lack of means to communicate between the remittance centers and the beneficiaries.

    “The problem is the beneficiaries lost or changed their mobile numbers. Thus, they weren’t able to get their reference codes from the remittance centers,” said Francia.

    At the House of Representatives, the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco yesterday acted on the proposed “P10K Ayuda bill” filed by Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano’s (NP, Taguig City) and referred the measure to the committee on economic affairs for consolidation with other similar measures.

    Rep. Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City), chair of the committee on social services, said his panel could not immediately act on the measure when it was referred to his panel because the plenary had already finished discussing the extension of the Bayanihan 2 law and the Speaker’s Bayanihan 3 bill was already being discussed by the economic affairs committee.

    “(So) I suggested the consolidation of this bill with similar measures and its referral to economic affairs. This is more practical since all these bills have similar legislative intent. By doing so, we can facilitate congressional action on these bills. There’ll only be one discussion, instead tackling it one by one,” Vargas said.

    Cayetano’s bill seeks to give each Filipino family P10,000 or P1,500 per family member, whichever is higher, that they can use for their daily needs or to start their own businesses as the country waits for the full roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program. – With Wendell Vigilia