Millions of poor and low-income Filipino households are bearing the brunt of the health and economic crisis and are in desperate need of ayuda. Things are much worse for them now than before the pandemic and the grossly inadequate government response. This includes the refusal to give the ayuda that so many so urgently need.
The number of unemployed and underemployed Filipinos in April 2021 is still much more than in January 2020 before the pandemic hit. Additional employment is not just insufficient, but also masks a serious deterioration in the quality of work and incomes. A closer look at the kind of work available shows millions of Filipinos struggling and forced to make do with whatever means of earning an income they can find.
The real value of the NCR minimum wage is 7.3% less today than at the start of the Duterte administration. The nominal NCR minimum wage is just 50.8% of the family living wage of five as of May 2021.
From Php239.3 billion under Bayanihan 1, allocations for COVID-related ayuda dropped by nearly Php217 billion under Bayanihan 2 and then by another Php4.4 billion under the 2021 budget.
Giving the Php10,000 ayuda demanded is extremely urgent. The amount merely approximates the government’s low official poverty threshold of Php10,756 and certainly does not come close to compensating the past year of collapsed incomes, anxiety and difficulty for tens of millions of Filipinos. This will give them immediate relief as well as, by spurring aggregate demand, make it easier to revive the economy.