Groups ask Senate for better employment programs, subsidy measures for women amid the pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 29) — Many deserving families did not receive cash subsidy or food relief from the government — and a group says it’s because they belong to so-called “hidden households.”

At the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality on Tuesday, Jane Pura of Plan International described these families as having no homes or permanent addresses. She said they are not registered voters, or simply assumed to be young mothers under the care of their father.

“Many girls said the distribution of SAP were unfair as many deserving families and individuals did not receive financial assistance…Some families received weekly relief from LGUs, while some families never received any,” Pura revealed.

Pura said there is also a discrepancy between the number of poor people the government tried to help and the actual number of indigents.

“The government targeted 18 million but this is based on 2018 data. Current poverty level is almost 22 percent, and this translates to 24 million poor needing assistance,” Pura said.

She said local government units and technology play a crucial role in identifying those who need the most help.

“Internet connectivity can be much more improved for access to education, for access to life-saving information during this pandemic and as lifeline to protection service,” Pura said.

Meanwhile, SENTRO-Women representatives said returning OFWs and relatives of Filipinos who work abroad have also been automatically disqualified from receiving government subsidy, even though many of them have no savings or have lost their jobs.

They told senators that there is a need to invest in a public employment program.

Nice Coronacion said there was a 14.7% increase in the number of Filipinos who are only working for less than 40 hours a week and are not earning enough.

However, there is no information about the government subsidy for women who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Mary Jane Rabungray described to senators the dire situation of many domestic helpers who either lost their jobs or got added workload without additional pay. SENTRO said their P5,000 monthly salary is not enough to cover their family’s expenses.