Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Orolito Brucal was barely making a living selling soft brooms. “Minsan kakahig ka, hindi ka naman tutuka (There are times when you work hard and yet are unable to put something in your mouth.)”
Now, with the restrictions brought about by the health crisis, life has become even worse.
“Naaawa ako sa sarili ko. Hindi ko malaman ang gagawin ko. Pilay ako, pilay ang asawa ko. Ako lang naman ang nagta-trabaho para sa amin,” Orolito said, thumping his chest as he tried to hold back his tears.
(I feel sorry for myself. I don’t know what to do. My wife and I are crippled, and I’m the only one who is providing for us both.)
He said he had to swallow his pride and accept donations just to survive the current crisis. “Talagang kung hindi dahil sa mga kapitbahay, walang-wala kami dito (If not for our neighbors, we would not survive at all).”
Wanting to help the millions of Filipinos like Orolito bounce back from the pandemic, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his allies on Friday distributed P10,000 in cash aid to more than 200 new beneficiaries in Laguna under the “Sampung Libong Pag-Asa” initiative.
“Hindi dole-out itong ibinibigay natin. We researched kung sino ang mapagbibigyan — very productive people, masisipag itong mga ito, tinamaan lang ng COVID,” Cayetano said.
(This is not a dole-out. We researched the deserving beneficiaries. These people are very productive and hard-working. They just happened to be badly hit by the pandemic.)
The beneficiaries came from 14 different areas in Laguna, all of whom either lost their jobs or were forced to take on elementary occupations due to the pandemic.
“‘Di ba napansin natin ‘pag sinabing stay at home, maraming hindi sumusunod? Bakit? Eh wala nang makain eh. So ‘yung ‘pag nagbigay ka ng ayuda at may negosyong maliit, pwedeng ‘yung isa na lang ang lumalabas para sa negosyo at ‘yung iba nasa bahay,” Cayetano said.
The “Sampung Libong Pag-Asa” was launched on May 1, with more than 200 Filipinos from all over the country receiving P10,000 in cash assistance raised by Cayetano and his fellow members of the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso movement.
The group had filed the 10K Ayuda Bill in February in a bid to allot P10,000 in direct stimulus per family or P1,500 per family member, whichever is higher.
The bill was considered during the joint hearing conducted by the Committees on Social Services and Economic Affairs on Bayanihan 3 but the 10k provision was not adopted.
“Kung pito kayo sa pamilya, you’ll get P10,500. Pero kung tatlo lang kayo, we don’t want you to get 1,000 each lang; we want you to get P10,000,” the former Speaker said, referring to the 10k Ayuda Bill.
(If there are seven of you in the family, you’ll get a total of P10,500. But if there are only three of you, we don’t want you to get only P1,000 each; we want you to get P10,000 as a family.)
“‘Yung P1,000 each lang, babayaran mo lang tubig at kuryente para di ka maputulan, wala ka nang gagamitin,” he continued.
(If you get only P1,000 each, you won’t have anything left after paying for your water and electricity bill so you don’t get disconnected.)
“Let’s learn from Bayanihan 1 and 2. Bayanihan 1 and 2 were not perfect, but we learned. The more times you make them fall in line, the harder it is for the mayors, the barangay officials, and the police — it’s chaotic,” he added.
On Friday, May 21, the Committee on Appropriations approved the Bayanihan 3. A total of P216 billion was allotted for the cash assistance provision. However, instead of P10,000 per family, the Committees are pushing for only P1,000 per individual.
“When we talk about it on the floor, let’s come up with a practical, very pragmatic, implementable program,” Cayetano said.
Orolito and the rest of the beneficiaries echoed Cayetano’s call.
“Sa mga congressman, sana po ‘wag niyo pong ipagdamot ang sampung libo na dapat ay ipamigay sa mga kapwa Pilipinong naghihirap,” Orolito said.
(To the members of Congress, we hope you don’t deny us the P10,000 that should be given to your fellow Filipinos who are suffering.) |MHIKE CIGARAL