MANILA, PHILIPPINES — A total of 295 vendors, pedicab drivers and other informal tourism workers in Intramuros have received close to P1.5 million cash under the government’s cash assistance program for workers displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat made the announcement today (May 17) following the approval of the allotment under the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Cash Assistance Program of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Also known as Bayanihan 2, the economic recovery act allocated a total PHP 3 billion in direct cash assistance to displaced workers in the tourism industry, including those in the informal sector.
The Intramuros beneficiaries include 138 carinderia and ambulant vendors, 87 security personnel, 20 DOT-accredited pedicab drivers, 20 janitorial services workers and 30 calesa drivers. They all have been approved to receive a one-time cash assistance of PHP 5,000 each from the program.
In a ceremonial awarding at the Rajah Sulayman Theater in Fort Santiago, Puyat led the awarding of certificates to the heads and representatives of the 295 workers.
“This assistance is only a bridge to help, but what will ensure sustainability is the reopening of the district, which we are witnessing now,” Puyat said in her message.
One of the beneficiaries, Gerald Abellar, representative of the DOT-Accredited Pedicab, expressed in Filipino, “We thank the DOT, the DOLE, and the Intramuros Administration. On our part, we commit to maintain the beauty and order of Intramuros as well as the strict observance of health and safety protocols to help suppress COVID-19.”
Puyat said the Intramuros Administration (IA) will focus more on the capacity building of these informal tourism workers by providing trainings and workshops to equip them for the new normal business landscape.
The Urban Planning and Community Development Division of IA also extended assistance to pedicab drivers and vendors for them to enjoy benefits of registered workers inside the Walled City by securing the necessary vending permits.
“Let us all welcome our visitors safely by wearing our face mask, face shield, and observing proper social distancing. This pandemic may have affected our plans and programs, but it will not deter us from showing the Filipino brand of service,” the tourism chief added.