The whole world has changed since our last project update on March 2.
On March 16 Metro Manila, and soon thereafter, all of Luzon, was placed under quarantine in an attempt to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Schools had already been closed in Metro Manila, and with this quarantine, all schools were closed.
The original government plan was for the quarantine to end on April 12 but it has since been extended and modified repeatedly and will now be in effect indefinitely as the government juggles the need to “re-open” the economy with the risk of further spread of the disease and associated fatalities. The government recently announced that there will be no “new normal” and the quarantines will be kept in place for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the schools, the quarantine on March 16 immediately shuttered all "non-essential" businesses, and therefore all of our PAGA beneficiaries' families suffered from a partial or total loss of income, resulting in financial stress and hunger.
In order to help our beneficiaries, given the urgent circumstances, our social workers interviewed and assessed them all. They determined that 64 of our beneficiaries’ families were in immediate need, and we provided cash remittances of 2,000 to these 64 families in March, and again in a second round of payments in April. A third tranche was paid in late May. Our intention is to augment, not replace, what they may already receive in cash or relief goods from the local barangay, LGU, DSWD, or DOLE. Until now, most of these government agencies have struggled with getting the funds and/or food in the hands of the needy recipients in a timely and undiluted fashion. In fact there are still funds from the 1st round of DSWD’s Social Amelioration Program in April that are undisbursed as of now, in June.
We are now under a “GCQ” or General Community Quarantine in Metro Manila and a modified form of GCQ with lesser but still intrusive, sets of restrictions in all other provinces of the country, except Cebu City which is under a very strict lockdown called “ECQ” (enhanced community quarantine). The threat of future localized strict lockdowns to control “hot spots” is ongoing. Some citizens have returned to work but many more remain unemployed, with total job losses in the Philippines estimated at around 5 million, and government coffers seriously depleted. Estimates are that 70% of Filipino families have lost their livelihood. To make matters worse, typhoon season has arrived and we’ve already experienced an intense tropical storm on top of the quarantine in some of the eastern provinces ...
PAGA’s social workers are in constant contact with our beneficiaries and will continue to review the status of their families. We will respond accordingly by providing periodic financial assistance as long as our resources permit.
Online registration for the now delayed start of the next school year is ongoing. The start date is August 24, but no face-to-face instruction will take place. Distance learning, in different forms, will be the only allowed modality “until a vaccine is available” according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Our PAGA beneficiary enrollment is well below that of last year due to the parents’ fear of allowing their children to attend school, and perhaps more importantly due to the almost universal poverty that has affected our families. They can’t afford to let the children receive education while they need them to work for whatever small amount they can earn to contribute to the family coffers.
Even after the final quarantine has been lifted, the economic damage to the country’s economy, and to the frail finances of our beneficiaries will continue for months, if not years.
While the goal for our project seems unrealistic at this point, the assistance we can provide to our current beneficiaries is very important.
Please donate to support PAGA’s assistance to these biracial Filipino-Amerasian families. Indicate “COVID-19” on your donation and we will allocate 100% directly to our needy families.Attachments: