Power, internet snag hamper DOLE cash aid

By Cet Dematera


Due to the on-going restoration of electric power and internet connections, online applications for cash aid of Bicolanos displaced by Covid-19 pandemic and the recent typhoons remain very low, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol reported recently.


With barely two weeks away from the deadline to fully disburse the cash aid, DOLE has released until Friday, Nov. 27, merely 18 percent or P27-million of the P150-million total allocation for some 30,000 beneficiaries in Bicol of the Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program or CAMP under Bayanihan 2.


The P27-million was released to 5,400 CAMP recipients at P5,000 each, Johanna Vi Gasga, DOLE Bicol spokesperson, said.


Also, around 12.15 percent or P24.3-million of the total allocation of P200-million was released to 4,860 beneficiaries in Bicol under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD program. The target is 40,000 typhoon-affected Bicolanos across the region.


Gasga believed that the very low number of online applications for both CAMP and TUPAD could be attributed to the still very limited supply of electricity and weak internet signal in most part of Bicol.


She recalled that when CAMP was implemented under Bayanihan 1 in April, this year, DOLE even ran out of budget that it only covered more than 25,000 recipients out of some 100,000 applicants. Though the labor agency met the TUPAD targeted recipients of over 56,000 workers under Bayanihan 1.


“But now, the number of online applications remains low despite our efforts of reaching to those unserved CAMP applicants under Bayanihan 1, despite the fact that we already informed them of the opportunity,” she said.


Gasga said the current poor internet signal and lack of supply of electricity in most areas of Bicol are presumed to be giving difficulties to the CAMP prospective applicant to apply online.


DOLE sets the deadline to fully disburse the cash assistance on Dec. 10.


DOLE has already tapped the different local governments in the distribution of the cash assistance.


For CAMP, Gasga said there is no specific allocation per province, but would depend on who would qualify on a first-come, first-serve basis.


But for TUPAD, there is a fix number of beneficiaries in the typhoon-stricken provinces of Bicol out of the total target of 40,000 in the whole region.


Of the 40,000 TUPAD beneficiaries, according to Gasga, 10,000 of them come from Albay with P50-miilion allocation; 9,600 from Catanduanes with P48-million; 6,000 apiece from Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte, with P30-million budget each province; 4,400 from Sorsogon, with P22-million; and, 4,000 from Masbate, with P20-miilion allocation.


Gasga said that the TUPAD program recipients are informal or marginalized workers, including self-employed, underemployed, and other workers who do not have “payslip” as basis for their work payment, adding that “only one person is qualified in one household.”


Due to the strong typhoons and the Covid-19 pandemic, DOLE has allocated P200-million for TUPAD for 40,000 beneficiaries, and P150.1-million for CAMP for 30,000 recipients in the region.