Friday, April 3, 2020

Labor groups press for universal system to avoid social divide in dispensing cash aid at household level

Aside from bureaucratic gridlock and the expected uneven dispersal of government’s assistance to different types of beneficiaries, labor groups under the Nagkaisa umbrella are now pressing for a universal system in providing covid-19 relief to locked down communities.

Calling it a guaranteed income for all, Nagkaisa proposes that a targeted system be replaced by a more efficient system of delivering social assistance which can only be done through universalization, which means everyone receives the same package of social amelioration.

In principle, everyone gets the same share – a minimum wage for all - if such a bottom line or standard is going to be adopted, explained the group.

“On the contrary, a targeted system which is what is being implemented today, is creating a social divide at the level of communities since while every Juan and Maria is presumed to be affected by the lockdown, not everyone is qualified for government assistance,” argued Nagkaisa.

Like any membership-based groups, Nagkaisa is receiving similar complaints and reports pointing to a common problem of not fairly receiving food packs, workers abandoned by their employers in applying for DOLE’s assistance, and now ensuring that everyone lands in the magic list of beneficiaries to receive cash assistance.

“It is an administrative nightmare to list down people based on different categories of beneficiaries and matched into different types of programs available just to avoid double-counting, or worse, to prevent one from sharing a plate with another. The effect is social segregation which runs counter to the social objectives defined by the Bayanihan Act,” said Nagkaisa.

The group said the AITF could still avoid this ugly scenario by opting for a universal rather than a targeted system of dispensing government assistance.

Nagkaisa holds that Filipinos need to heal as one and should not leave anyone.

Nagkaisa likewise believe that the existing databases from Philhealth, SSS, PSA, and DSWD can be worked out to implement a universal system rather than making a new list that will take more time to verify and scrutinize under a targeted system.

“As a consequence this would also mean additional funding, but since the President was already given a free hand to re-align the P4.1T budget for 2020, dividing the fund is a lesser problem to contend with than a divided people,” concluded Nagkaisa.

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