GENERAL LUNA, Surigao del Norte – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar assured the public that there will be more interventions coming from the national government for families and businesses affected by the pandemic.
“There will be more assistance coming into Siargao and other areas affected by the pandemic, as we have streamlined the request for aid needed by local government units for their constituents,” he said.
Weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 137, national government agencies have started to respond to the mandate of accelerating and harmonizing operations on the delivery of sustainable assistance to areas and communities affected by calamities and emergencies, including the pandemic.
The Aid and Humanitarian Operations Nationwide (AHON) Convergence Program was consecutively launched in the municipalities of San Benito, St.Monica, Borgus, and General Luna from June 9-10, 2021 to help families whose livelihood or source of income were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary Andanar said that the economy in Siargao, a tourism-reliant island, has been one of the communities that were badly hit by the pandemic, which is why it was chosen as the pilot area for the convergence policy.
He also noted that this initiative of the government shows that President Rodrigo Duterte fulfills his commitments to the Filipino people.
“Action speaks louder than words. This is one of the mottos of the Administration of President Duterte. That is why, since he sat in 2016 until now, you can see real change. We have Build, Build, Build projects here and now we have this AHON Convergence Program,” he said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development, vice chair of the AHON Committee, distributed aid through their Livelihood Assistance Grant and Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) to 526 beneficiaries from the four municipalities. Through the said assistance, beneficiaries can receive up to P15,000 assistance.
LAG and AICS are the recovery and rehabilitation programs of the government to serve families during the community quarantine.
Vilma Tejada, a local entrepreneur of General Luna, was one of the recipients of the assistance during the launching in General Luna on June 11, 2021. Her store was one of the businesses that were interrupted by the pandemic given that there are limited tourists coming to the island during this pandemic.
“As a beneficiary of the assistance, I am grateful for this because I did not expect it to come. This really is a blessing for me and my family,” she said.
Tejada received a grant amounting to P15,000 which she will be using to augment his business operations.
The same assistance grant was also distributed to 148 beneficiaries in Sta. Monica.
Jocelyn Escobal, a sari-sari store owner in Sta. Monica, also received P15,000 which he said will be enough for his family’s business. She was emotional when she extended her gratitude to President Duterte and Senator Bong Go.
“As a single parent, this is really a big help. On behalf of the rest of the beneficiaries here in Sta. Monica, I can pledge that we will work hard and use this assistance given by the government to us for the welfare of our families. Thank you very much to everyone, especially to the President.,” he said.
“I am also thankful to Sen. Bong Go. Because of the Malasakit Center, all our expenses for my husband’s hospitalization were shouldered. I paid nothing for it,” she added.