By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Saturday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to use the funds under its 2020 budget to help the workers displaced by the eruption of the Taal Volcano last week.
In a statement, Angara disclosed that the DOLE has more than P120 million that it can use to provide assistance to the displaced workers in Batangas and Cavite amid the unrest of the Taal Volcano.
The chair of the Senate Committee of Finance said that, under the 2020 General Appropriations Act, DOLE was given P112.62 million for its Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), a comprehensive package of assistance and intervention for displaced workers.
Under the program, permanent or regular employees are entitled to receive financial relief support equivalent to 50 percent of the prevailing minimum wage in the region for a maximum period of six months; while casual employees would get financial assistance equivalent to 25 percent of the prevailing minimum wage for a maximum period of three months.
Aside from the AMP, P6.8 million was also allocated to the the DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers, or TUPAD Program, which provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.
“We urge the DOLE to immediately issue the guidelines for the programs and to reach out to the individuals in the affected areas,” Angara said.
“For the employers of the affected individuals, we appeal for their understanding. It will give them some peace of mind to know that they will have their old jobs waiting for them once they are able to resume their normal lives,” he appealed.
Authorities earlier said that more than 43,681 people are displaced by the Taal Volcano’s eruption and are now taking shelter in 217 evacuation centers in Batangas and Cavite.
Apart from the lack of food, clothing and shelter, the evacuees also have to cope with the loss of their livelihood and employment because of the disaster.
On Friday, Angara said the government can also tap the more than P700 billion of unused funds, including the P7-billion calamity fund, in the 2019 budget to provide assistance to the families displaced by the eruption of the Taal Volcano. The funds were not utilized because of the delayed passage of last year’s national budget, he recalled.
“The impact of the eruption of Taal Volcano is wide-ranging. Most of the affected families have lost everything, including their livelihood and it is the obligation of the government to provide them with support during times like these. We must do everything to get these communities back on their feet again at the soonest possible time,” Angara said.