A third tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP 3), the government’s emergency financial aid for low-income families affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is urgent and critical, Rep. José María Clemente “Joey” Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee at the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday.
He said SAP 3 was needed as the unemployment rate continued to rise.
“As months of interrupted work, school, and business have passed, we members of Congress have heard plea after plea from our people seeking help on their most basic needs — from food for their families, to medicine for their elderly, and milk for their infants,” the Albay lawmaker said.
“I have not seen this volume of requests ever in my five terms as a member of Congress and in my three terms as a governor. Even people whom I know to have been gainfully employed before the pandemic are now in very dire need. We not only have a health emergency. Many communities are on the brink of being completely pauperized,” he added.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that 4.9 million jobs were lost from January to April 2020. Salceda said an estimated 2.2 million of the job losses had not been accounted for when the registry for the SAP was finalized. This translates to around 1.2 million households who have lost at least one income earner, he said.
“This number will likely swell to another 3.6 million jobs lost by the end of July 2020. This is likely to be another 1.5 million households,” the economist-lawmaker said.
“The gig and freelance economies, employing at least 1.5 million workers, have also been severely battered. The World Economic Forum estimates that about 70 percent of freelance workers have completely lost their income during the pandemic. This is 1.09 million workers without income, or about 0.55 million households,” he added
Salceda estimated at least 3.3 million households that lost their income after the registry for the first and the second tranches of SAP aid was completed.
He projected that another 1.7 million workers, who are part of some 0.9 million households, would lose employment by the end of September “once the impacts of the subsidies and the wage protection programs wear off.”
“In other words, with an economic stimulus package, we may have to provide subsidies to 3.3 million households. Without stimulus, the number could swell to 4.2 million,” he said.