MIDDLE-INCOME WORKERS. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with some members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Monday (April 13, 2020). Duterte approved the PHP51 billion wage subsidy for the middle-income workers affected by the government’s response against coronavirus disease. (Presidential photo by Karl Norman Alonzo)

President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light to release a PHP50.8-billion wage subsidy for middle-income workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed over Luzon to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) spokesperson Karlo Nograles said Duterte approved the subsidy program during a meeting with members of the IATF late Monday night.

“Nagbigay na siya ng go dito (He already gave it go signal),” Nograles said in a virtual presser on Tuesday.

Nograles said the wage subsidy program is expected to benefit 3.4 million workers of 1.6 million small businesses which have ceased to operate due to the enhanced community quarantine.

Medium and big-scale businesses are not covered by this wage subsidy, he added.

He said the wage subsidy program will be similar to the government’s PHP200-billion emergency subsidy program for 18-million low-income families.

Nograles said beneficiaries of the wage subsidy will also get subsidies ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 per family for the months of April and May.

The cash assistance, he said, will be distributed in two tranches–the first tranche will be paid out between May 1 to May 15 while the second tranche will be paid out on May 16 to May 30.

The cash aid may be received by beneficiaries through SSS Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) card enrolled as ATM cards, PayMaya, eWallet or cash pick up arrangement through remittance transfer companies.

However, Nograles clarified that those who already received aid through the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will no longer be eligible for the first tranche of the assistance.

“Kung nakatanggap ka na sa CAMP ng DOLE, hindi ka na kasama sa first tranche pero magka-qualify ka sa second tranche (If you have received CAMP from DOLE you are no longer included in the first tranche but still qualify for the second tranche),” he said.

Under the CAMP, affected workers are provided a one-time cash assistance of PHP5,000.

Earlier, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla asked the government to include middle-class families in the cash subsidy program and look beyond offering help to only “the poorest of the poor.”

Duterte vowed to find ways to include the middle class but admitted that it would be a difficult task. (PNA)