Coping Up Amid COVID-19

Quezon City- Few weeks ago, the nation was placed under community quarantine to avert the further spread of the dreadful Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since then, the national government introduced social safety nets to help the most affected population address the basic food and non-food needs.

Carmela Cabrera, 39, comes from a poor family living in from Barangay Concepcion, Plaridel, Quezon. She admits that the community quarantine came in as a surprise. Her husband is a construction worker, while Carmela sells soap in the community. But with the quarantine being implemented, they have been barred from working.

“Nawalan kami pareho ng hanap-buhay, yung asawa ko hindi makauwi dahil naabutan ng lockdown sa ibang probinsya. Ganun pa man, alam ko kakayanin namin ito, ang importante may diskarte” (We both lost our jobs, my husband couldn’t come home because of lockdown in another province. Yet I know, we will survive this, what is important is the plan), shared Carmela.

Through a lesson she learned from their Pantawid FDS discussion, Rosa started saving money in her coin banks

Rosa Rodriguez is from Majayjay, Laguna. While life may be difficult, she learned to set aside a portion of their income as savings.

“Natuto akong mag-impok dahil hindi natin alam kung ano ang maaaring problemang dumating,( I learned to save because we don’t if there are problems that might come along the way said Rosa.

Carmela and Rosa are among the 4 million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which are among the priorities provided with government’s assistance under the Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The law allows for the provision of emergency subsidies that will benefit around 18 million households coming from low income and daily wage earners to include 4Ps beneficiaries.  The additional subsidies hopes to help the most vulnerable sectors meet their basic needs most especially in accessing food and non-food items to combat the COVID-19.  

According to the 4Ps National Project Management Office, 3.7 million 4Ps beneficiaries can now withdraw the additional subsidies as provided in RA 11469 through their cash cards. They may withdraw from Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) or Bancnet Auto-Mated Teller Machines (ATMs) nationwide. They may also use their cash cards to establishments accepting payment via point-of-sale (pos) or on-line purchases subject to terms and conditions.  

“Malaking tulong yung natanggap naming dagdag na tulong pinansyal na ibinigay ng gobyerno maliban sa cash grant na natnaggap naming mula sa 4Ps. Nakatulong din ng malaki sa amin ang pagkakaroon ng gulayan. Kahit papano, nakakakain kami ng gulay, upang mapanatiling malusog ang aming pangangatawan (t is a great help to receive additional financial assistance from the government aside from the cash grant we received from 4Ps. It’s also a big help to have a vegetable garden.  At least we are able to eat vegetables to help nourish our body), Carmela added.

To ensure that the program beneficiaries will have access to healthy and nutritious food, the technology on bio-intensive gardening was introduced to them. They were also encouraged to have a backyard or community garden. Backyard gardens have become the househoulds’ source of nutritious food. Meanwhile, community gardens have also become an additional source of income to some beneficiaries by selling their produce.

4Ps is the national poverty reduction strategy of the national government. It invests in the health, nutrition, and education of poor households for improved well-being.  It was institutionalized in April of 2019 making it a law, Republic Act 11310.

4ps beneficiaries are entitled to receive cash subsidies provided that the conditions on health, nutrition, and education are followed. This includes sending and keeping their school-aged children in school; pre and post-natal care for mothers; regular and preventive check-ups for children aged 5 and below; deworming for children aged 14 and below; and attendance to the monthly conduct of the Family Development Session (FDS).

Meanwhile, Rosa said that her saving literally saved them from going hungry. She knew that they needed enough supply of food for their family of four. Though they do not have money on hand as their income is on a day-to-day basis, she did not hesitate to open her coin bank.

“Binuksan ko ang alkansya ko. Kahit papaano, ito ang ginamit namin pambili ng bigas at ibang pangangailangan. ‘Yung sobra ay binalik ko para kapag talagang kailangang kailangan na, mayroon kaming makukuha,( I opened my coin bank. We used the money to buy rice and other necessities. I returned the extra so that when I really needed it, I will have something to get)said Rosa.

As the economic activities being limited during the enhanced community quarantine, beneficiaries of the 4Ps continue to look for ways and opportunities to provide for their basic needs. Such is the case of Rosa and Carmela, who debunks the notion that beneficiaries mostly rely on government subsidies. ###