De Lima proposes ‘cash-for-work’ for poor families in rural areas


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure institutionalizing a “cash-for-work” program for qualified members of poor families in rural, far-flung, and conflict-stricken areas in the country.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, filed Senate Bill No. 2012 which seeks to provide livelihood opportunities to poor families in rural areas usually affected by disaster or underdevelopment.

“Most of the poorest regions in the country are composed mainly of rural and agricultural areas suffering from some combination of isolation, lack of infrastructure, lack of services, and vulnerability to natural disasters, like drought and flooding,” she said.

“Efforts to reduce poverty incidence in urban areas vis-à-vis rural areas have resulted in the latter being left behind as poverty is increasingly becoming a rural phenomenon due to misguided poverty alleviation and reduction strategies,” De Lima added.

Also known as “Rural Employment Assistance Program Act,” the measure seeks to provide a temporary employment to every qualified member of a poor family in rural areas for a minimum of 45 days but not more than 90 days in a given year.

Qualified individuals shall be entitled to receive a compensation for each day of employment assistance equivalent to the applicable minimum wage set by the concerned Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

They shall also be eligible to avail of micro-insurance benefits as a form of social security in the event of accidental death or dismemberment, medical reimbursement, and bereavement assistance in the duration of the project.

The Senator from Bicol pointed out that the institutionalization of cash-for-work programs, notably in rural areas, would allow local residents to participate in all phases of project development, including monitoring and evaluation.

“This measure intends that the people not be perceived and treated as passive end-users of cash-for-work programs but rather as active agents who are just as capable as any ‘outsider’ of determining which project would bring the most benefit to their respective communities,” she explained.

“Enabling the people most affected by the prevailing circumstances to actively participate in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives in an essential component,” she added.

Under the proposed measure, workers eligible for the cash-for-work programs may be employed in community development projects, including in the rebuilding or rehabilitation of agri-based livelihood assets damaged by natural disasters.

They may also be employed in the development, rehabilitation or construction of common service facilities such as post-harvest facilities, public markets, farm-to-market roads, bridges, shelter units, day-care centers and medical facilities, among others.

In consultation with the concerned local government units, qualified workers may also be tapped for the protection of natural and productive assets through mitigation and disaster risk reduction measures, such as mangrove planting and rehabilitation.

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