WHEN an unspeakable disaster like that caused by super storm Yolanda strikes, many people, including businessmen and uninsured homeowners, turn to the government for help in rebuilding their lives.
A disaster loan program must be made available through the agencies of government.
THE Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or the Pag-IBIG Fund should offer calamity loans for the victims of Yolanda and prioritize the processing of applications from members who were most affected, particularly in the hardest hit provinces of Samar and Leyte.
The Social Security System (SSS) should also offer calamity loans, or if not, then salary loans, with a commitment to process them speedily.
What about the Government Service Insurance System? Before, government workers could readily access calamity loans from the GSIS. These loans must also be made available in the aftermath of Yolanda.
Loan officers in relief centers
Loan officers of these agencies must be present at relief or assistance centers to process loan applications and cut the red tape.
Even as the government conducts immediate relief efforts—finding people, re-establishing communications, clearing debris, providing food and shelter and emergency money grants to needy families—these disaster or emergency loans must be made available in order to help citizens affected by the storm get back on their feet.
These loans are essential especially to small business owners and homeowners seeking to replace uninsured personal property and cover the uninsured costs of rebuilding their homes and establishments.
The need to provide quick loans for disaster victims must be balanced by safeguards and internal controls so that the money available will not be subject to corruption.
In previous calamities, Pag-ibig members filed their loan applications at the Pag-IBIG office nearest them. They have 90 days from the occurrence of the calamity within which to apply for and avail themselves of loans.
Under the fund’s Calamity Loan Program, Pag-IBIG members can borrow up to 80 percent of their total accumulated savings, with an interest rate of 10.75 percent per annum. The loan has a five-month grace period and is payable in 24 months.
To qualify, applicants must be residents of localities declared as calamity areas, who have paid at least 24 monthly contributions, and are active members at the time of application.
Of course, all of us should start helping, not only the government, but from big companies to ordinary citizens. Damayan and tulungan are true Filipino traits. And they make even the heaviest burden a little lighter.
CCT-funded rehab is a good suggestion
I remember reading a few months ago a proposal from Senator Alan Cayetano that the government could use to help victims of Yolanda.
Senator Cayetano proposed giving relief to victims of calamities and disasters through the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.
He said that aside from increasing the allocation for CCT in the national budget to increase the number of beneficiaries, the government can likewise expand the program further to provide capital to poor families and those who are victims of calamities and disasters as a mechanism for rehabilitation.
He stressed that an expanded CCT would pave a way for the rehabilitation of these victims by providing them with adequate access to capital, which will equip them with enough means to rebuild their source of livelihood.
He also suggested that government enact a second-tier program complementary to the CCT program that is currently in effect. He said he envisions the “CCT 2” to be a mechanism that will provide access to capital for poor families and victims of calamities or disasters to start or sustain their own micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME).
It’s a good idea and it’s workable.