Malacañang doubles coverage of dole outs

Published by rudy Date posted on April 4, 2009

Malacañang unveiled yester-day a program to double its cash handout program in the runup to next year’s national elections with 5 million Filipinos who supposedly belong to the poorest families to receive cash or health insurance benefits.

A total of 321,000 families, double the original target, will qualify for cash handouts of up to P9,000 this year, President Arroyo’s spokesman Cerge Remonde told reporters.

More than 100,000 people have either lost their jobs or suffered pay cuts as the effects of the global financial crisis hits the Philippines.

The country has been hit by plunging exports amid falling demand from recession-plagued overseas markets, according to labor department data.

Under the plan, five million families will receive the equivalent of P1,200 each in the form of medical insurance coverage, Remonde added.

The government will also retrain half a million young people aged between 15 and 24 “which is the biggest segment of the unemployed population,” he said.

The government says nine million people, or 10 percent of the population, are now jobless or underemployed.

The Asian Development

Bank said the country’s economic growth would slow to 2.5 percent this year compared to 6.4 percent in 2008.

The influential Filipino Chinese business community, meanwhile, renewed its commitment in expanding socio-civic programs and in providing employment opportunities to support the government’s so-called resiliency plan.

The Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce Inc. (FFCCI) has identified programs including the putting up of school buildings, continued employment from its member companies, investments promotions, contributions of police cars and equipment, fire prevention assistance, and calamities relief operations as among its socio-civic and economic contributions its 170-member will be embarking on in the next two years.

In yesterday’s 27th Biennial Convention of the FFCCI, Mrs. Arroyo committed the government’s donation of P35 million to the FFCCI’s school building program while at the same time recommending that classrooms be built to allow a ratio of one classroom for every 50 students.

The FFCCI, which has among its members business tycoons Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, has been building schools for the past years resulting in almost 11,000 new classrooms nationwide.

FFCCI president John K. Tan said in the forum that through Executive Order 784 issued by Mrs. Arroyo in February last year, the chamber was able to raise funds for the construction of more school buildings. The EO allowed tax-deductible donations from individuals and companies for the school building program for one year.

“We hope to pursue socio-civic programs for our communities,” Tan said.

Among the contributions of the FFCCI, according to Tan, were intended for the peace and order maintenance which during his term the group had donated 20 new police cars and supported the installation of close-circuit televisions (CCTV) at critical and crime prone areas.

Tan also reported that since January this year, the FFCCI has signed an agreement with the Department of Labor and Employment for job placements available from member companies offering vacancies.

In the same occasion, Teresita Coson-Sy president of the SM Group of Companies and chairwoman of Banco De Oro, said the major economies of the United States, Japan and China are still tackling the economic crisis and it will take a while for the world to get over this challenge.

Coson-Sy also said that the remittances of overseas workers will continue to post a steady level of growth and that the business process outsourcing will continue to expand.

“While there may be problems, we can turn these into opportunities,” she noted. Riza Recio, AFP

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