After 7 weeks of lockdown: Meager cash aid puts HHs below official poverty line

May 5, 2020

by IBON Foundation

Research group IBON said that 97% of 11.4 million served beneficiaries are barely surviving the lockdown with cash aid that is way below the official poverty line. Meanwhile, 37% of 18 million low-income households are still waiting to receive social amelioration after seven weeks of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The group said that, already so late in the game, the government urgently needs to pick up its pace if it really intends to aid millions of struggling Filipino families.

Based on Pres. Duterte’s latest report to Congress, IBON said that the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on for too long and is still insufficient, pushing many vulnerable households into deeper poverty.

A total of 11.4 million beneficiaries were reported to have been given social amelioration from various government agency programs. Of this, IBON estimates that 11 million or 97% of served beneficiaries have received emergency subsidies equivalent to just Php80-119 per day over 49 days of lockdown. This is as little as just one-fourth (23%) of the very low official poverty line of about Php353 per day for a family of five.

These include 4Ps beneficiaries (3.8 million) that got only Php89 per day of cash aid; non-4Ps beneficiaries (6.4 million) with Php119/day, DOLE-CAMP workers (522,855) with Php102/day; and TUPAD informal workers (254,071) with just Php80/day.

PUV/TNVS drivers and overseas workers supposedly received relatively higher support of some Php8,000 and Php10,000 respectively. However, these are also still below the official poverty line of Php10,727 monthly on average nationwide.

Meanwhile, there are still millions of households that have not received promised emergency subsidies for more than a month-and-a-half. If just 11.4 million beneficiaries were given assistance, this means that 6.6 million or 37% of the targeted 18 million low-income families still have not gotten anything.

IBON said that government’s laggard and militaristic response to the pandemic has left millions of Filipino families struggling to meet their basic needs. Emergency subsidies during the lockdown are not enough. The government should ensure that all families needing assistance are given sufficient support not just to recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 lockdown but also to survive the economic crisis that has set in.

4Ps – Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; DOLE – Department of Labor and Employment; CAMP – COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program; TUPAD – Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program; PUV – public utility vehicle; TNVS – transport network vehicle services