Senator Sonny Angara called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to ensure that all the affected families in the oil spill brought about by the sinking of the MT Princess Empress off the coast of Naujan in Oriental Mindoro last February 28 will receive assistance at the soonest possible time.
As chairman of the Committee on Finance that deliberates on the annual national budget, Angara said the P5.268 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2023 contains a total of P37 billion for the Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances (PSFIDC) of the DSWD that can be tapped for the assistance to the affected families.
Specifically, the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), that is part of the PSFIDC, can cover the situation in Oriental Mindoro based on the guidelines issued by the DSWD.
“The AICS covers a broad set of beneficiaries who are in a state of active crisis or crisis situation and that is precisely what has befallen the residents of the nine municipalities of Oriental Mindoro with this massive environmental disaster,” Angara said.
“Most of the affected municipalities are coastal communities whose residents rely on fishing as their primary source of livelihood and with the suspension of all fishing activities there, the families are faced with uncertainty over how to put food on their tables. This is where government can step in with its programs on cash aid and emergency employment,” the Senator added.
A state of calamity has been raised over 77 coastal villages of Oriental Mindoro and based on data from the DSWD, more or less 19,500 families have been affected by the disaster.
Angara urged the DSWD to fast track the downloading of AICS funding to the affected families to help them with their basic necessities such as food, transportation and medical services.
From the initial P20 billion proposed by Malacañang for the PSFIDC under the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), Congress raised this amount by P17 billion to allow the DSWD to cover more disadvantaged Filipinos, who require temporary assistance immediately.
Apart from the AICS, Angara said the Department of Labor and Employment should provide emergency employment to the affected residents through its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.
Under the TUPAD, emergency employment to the displaced, unemployed and seasonal workers would range from 10 to 30 days.
“Isa sa nakikita kong pwedeng trabaho na ibigay sa mga residente ng Oriental Mindoro ay ang paglinis ng nagkalat na langis sa lugar nila. Sa pamamagitan ng TUPAD, kikita na sila, makatutulong pa sa pagbabalik normal, hindi lang ng kani-kanilang pamumuhay kundi ng kanilang buong komunidad,” Angara said.
Sa pamamagitan ng TUPAD, kikita na sila, makatutulong pa sa pagbabalik normal, hindi lang ng kani-kanilang pamumuhay kundi ng kanilang buong komunidad.
A total of P20.1 billion was provided under the 2023 GAA for the TUPAD/Government Internship Program of the DSWD.
This was a P4.5 billion increase from the P15.6 billion proposed under the NEP.
Apart from the fisherfolk, workers in the tourism sector in the province were also affected by the oil spill.