Around 3.4 million employees of some 1.6 million small businesses affected by the strict quarantine measures being imposed by the national government and most local governments will receive a wage subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 a month for two months.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the Department of Finance (DOF) proposal to pay out around P51 billion in wage subsidy to the affected employees in response to calls for cash aid for the middle class.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on April 14 that the President approved the proposal during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) late Monday night, April 13.
The President and some members of the task force subsequently held a briefing that was broadcast via Facebook Live on Monday midnight.
In his regular virtual press conference on April 14, Nograles said the subsidy will be released in two tranches: the first on May 1 to 15; and the second on May 16 to 30.
He said those eligible to receive the subsidy are: workers who were employed as of March 1; they must not have been paid their salaries since March 1; they must not have been retrenched or fired; and they must not have resigned.
Those who have received P5,000 from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will no longer receive the first tranche, but will receive the second tranche.
Priority will be given to employees and businesses registered with the Social Security System (SSS) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, however, said they will look for a way to also provide assistance to an estimated 800,000 workers who are not registered with either the SSS or the BIR.
Nograles said the subsidy will be released through either of the following: UMID (unified multi-purpose ID) card, employee’s bank account, Paymaya, or pick-up arrangement with a remittance company.
Chua, who presented the proposal to President Duterte on Monday night, said the list of beneficiaries will be drawn from the records of the SSS and BIR.
An enhanced community quarantine is in effect over the entire Luzon, home to more than 52 million citizens and the biggest contributor to the Philippine economy.
Similar measures are also in place in Cebu and other key cities and provinces to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
As of April 14, there are 5,223 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Philippines. Of the number, 335 had died while 295 have recovered from the disease.
Globally, the World Health Organization reported 1,844,863 cases as of April 14, with 117,021 deaths.
The virus originated in Wuhan City in Hubei province in central China and was first reported to the WHO in late December 2019. (Ventures Cebu)