EL NIDO, Palawan – The El Nido local government unit (LGU) is looking into various financial aid programs to assist those whose incomes are greatly affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Since March 17, 2020, the municipality of El Nido has implemented its own ECQ via Executive Order (EO) 20-041. Business establishments, except pharmacies, grocery stores, clinics, and all other similar essentials, were instructed not to operate until the quarantine has been lifted in order to lessen the likelihood of spreading COVID-19.

This entails that many employees in the private sector are bound to be out of work throughout the duration of the quarantine.

The El Nido LGU has tasked the Municipal Social Welfare Department (MSWD), the Public Service Employment Office (PESO), and the Local Finance Council (LFC) to “formulate programs, projects and measures for social amelioration of affected workers and residents of El Nido.”

“Nakita naming na marami talagang madidisplace sa work, lalo na ‘yong mga marginalized. Ang order ni mayor, i-collect lahat ng data, mag-allocate ng kaukulang funds. Tinatabulate pa ang mga available funds ngayon, pero ‘di ko pa po maibigay ang exact figure,” said Kurt Acosta, El Nido public relations officer I.

“Merong programa ang PESO na tinitingnan, ang project TUPAD (Tulong Hanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers),” he added.

Project TUPAD is a so-called “food-for-work” program under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that is used in times of emergencies and for the most vulnerable members of the workforce.

This way, LGUs hire displaced and out-of-work individuals to perform certain tasks in exchange for a salary. However, the El Nido LGU has yet to finalize this, since the ECQ requires that all mass gatherings, especially in closed quarters, be prohibited.

“Dahil nga may COVID-19, hindi pa sigurado kung anong puwedeng ipagawa,” Acosta added.

The Municipal Tourism Office (MTO) and the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) are currently collating information on local business establishments and other registered business entities to determine the appropriate programs for El Nido residents and who are qualified beneficiaries. For informally employed persons who are not registered with the BPLO, the MSWD is currently working on a program especially for them.

“Para sa mga hindi registered sa BPLO, mayroong hinahanda ang MSWD na form. May screening process na gagawin, kailangan nilang pumunta sa MSWD office para malaman kung qualified ba sila sa mga benefits. ‘Yon lang po, di pa nila natatapos ang mga form na ‘yon,” said Acosta.

The El Nido LGU is required by the National Government to finalize their programs within 10 days after March 17, the start of the ECQ.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.