As the April 26 full closure of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan nears, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in close coordination with its Field Office (FO) in Western Visayas, has begun its  operations to help residents of the island.

Yesterday, the DSWD Operations Center in Boracay  was able to release  a total of P170,600 for 120 workers who will lose their jobs on the 26th when the island shuts itself off from tourists.

According to DSWD Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco, the DSWD is now implementing its plans  to help the workers being displaced, as well as residents who will be remaining on the island post April 26.  In the immediate wake of a declaration of state of calamity in Boracay, DSWD will  provide cash-for-work to those who will lose their jobs or sources of livelihood.

“DSWD Field Office 6 will call for a meeting of the regional response cluster to discuss how we can better help those who will be affected by the shutdown. We will coordinate with different local government units (LGUs) and ask them to prepare a project proposal for the provision of Cash-For-Work (CFW) assistance to the affected families for them to be engaged in the cleaning and greening projects in Boracay,” he  said.

CFW is a short-term intervention implemented by the DSWD to provide temporary employment to distressed or displaced individuals participating in preparedness, mitigation, relief, rehabilitation or risk reduction projects and activities in their communities or in evacuation centers.

Under the program, beneficiaries are provided with 75 percent of the prevailing regional minimum wage rate per day for a 10-day working period.

OIC Leyco said that the DSWD will increase the rate of the cash-for-work from 75 percent of the regional minimum wage rate which is P242 to 100 percent  of the rate, which is P323 to comply with national policies.

“We are now preparing the assistance we will provide to  transport cooperative associations   and their members. They are informal sector workers who have no job security or benefits , and they strictly rely on the earnings they make from driving tricycles, vans, and boats to transport tourists to, from, and within Boracay,   So far our field staff have communicated with seven big coops in Boracay. Altogether, their members number 1,607,” he said.

“We continue to reach out  to more coops and other informal sector workers such as those who make and sell handicrafts, food vendors, and those who tend small shops and stalls. We want to help them through the CFW scheme,” he further said.

The welfare official also said that the DSWD continues to   coordinate with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other government agencies which will also provide their own versions of cash-for-work programs to the affected Malay residents.

“We will help craft a proposal for the systematic and continuous provision of CFW in coordination with other agencies. The DSWD can be  the first to provide CFW, followed by DOLE, and then other government agencies so the beneficiaries will continue to receive assistance,” he explained.

In the meantime, FO 6 Regional Director Geamala further said that the DSWD will refer those who will avail of its cash-for-work program to government agencies that will facilitate the constructions of roads, sewage systems, and other infrastructure in the island to see if they can be further hired for these projects.

Request for additional fund

DSWD FO VI has started to provide transportation assistance through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program to migrant workers of hotels and resorts in Boracay who will leave the island within the week. The workers are being served at the Department’s Operations Center (OpCen) located in Station 2, Boracay.

The DSWD will also assist the informal workers, who are mostly locals, who will likewise lose their sources of income when Boracay shuts down. The informal workers in the island include food sellers, vendors of handicrafts, tour guides, public transport drivers, and operators of small water-sport activity outfits, among others.

“As of the moment, we are working on our regular fund. The assistance we are providing to those affected by the closure is from our Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) fund,” Dir. Geamala said.

OIC Leyco explained that the DSWD  is prepared to augment DSWD Field Office 6’s funds in the event that President Rodrigo Duterte declares Boracay Island to be under the state of calamity.  #