Our perspective (so far) with Kalingang QC Para sa Negosyo: Wage Relief Program
By Reena Lebanan
Ever since the quarantine started, I was able to work from home for the most part and only needed to go to the office whenever I wanted a change of environment. I don’t have any legitimate excuse because most of my tasks can be done off site and there are lots of services around to keep me staying at home. We have an Administrative Assistant and Office Custodian whom we are dependent on for errands and business in and outside the office. But one fine morning, I had to line up unexpectedly for what seemed like an unnecessary and preventable task in exchange for money.
Let me tell you why:
We felt joy when we found out that Quezon City Local Government Unit was planning to provide and distribute an economic stimulus package to provide partial subsidy for the salaries of micro and small business employees to help us weather and cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Applying immediately for Happy Hive and our clients located in QC was like second nature as we have been providing administrative services for more than three years now, even if we were not familiar with this one since it’s totally new.
All Online – Looking Good So Far
Application was relatively easy; it was done online and we just had to upload to a website to submit documents. The only time we had to go out was to get documents notarized before submission and have the Mayor’s Permit amended to reflect the current count of employees. It was repeatedly announced that the wage relief was going to be distributed through GCash, which was a very good move especially now that we’re trying to minimize going out and exposing ourselves to possible viral infection.
An email was sent to us a month after the application indicating that our company and clients have been approved for the Wage Relief Program. So that’s a yey! We were directed to a link in that same email where we could confirm details including the mobile numbers of all employees who will receive the payout thru GCash, no sweat.
Glitch in the System
My mother is one of our clients and was approved for the program. Though her business address is at QC, she lives in Antipolo and is a senior citizen with a high risk for contracting severe Covid-19 symptoms. A month after the confirmation, and two days before the disbursement, a text message was sent to her stating that the first tranche of the wage relief will need a PERSONAL APPEARANCE to be able to receive the wage relief. Jusko patawarin! Imagine everyone’s disbelief, worry, and displeasure!
We saw in the LGU’s Facebook post’s comment sections that a lot of people felt the same way we did. Don’t get us wrong, we are very grateful for this aid but a lot of individuals and companies have almost the same sentiment that disbursing the payout this way might cause more harm than good. Thankfully, they permitted a representative as long as they present the valid ID of the beneficiary and authorization letter. Okay, gets.
There was no question that I’ll be the one claiming the money for my mother since they explicitly said in the SMS message that it has to be a relative. I immediately thought about the ones who don’t have relatives nearby or are out of town for the duration of the quarantine. Another problem for another person.
I brought everything they asked and off I went to Quezon Memorial Circle (or Circle for those who are familiar) to line up for ayuda. I even got lost because I mistakenly searched People’s Hall instead of Century Hall in Google Maps – not sure how I mixed that up, maybe because it was unusually early for me to be out of the house (9:30 am). Anyway, the line was not that long when I got there and ushers were directing people to the correct line according to your reference number. People were practicing social distancing, everyone had face masks, and most had face shields including me (as an overthinking paranoid).
It was my turn at the Validator’s desk and I handed over the requirements they asked us to bring. Upon checking, they said that I needed to photocopy the valid IDs. I quipped “Sana po sinabi nyo po sa announcement nyo para naiprepare ko”. To which one of them replied, “Understood na po ‘yon!”. Okaaaaaay, I didn’t reply anymore since I was going to waste more time standing in front of them and exposing myself to whatever, so I went to the office beside the hall to have papers photocopied. I really wanted to say that if it was “understood” then they wouldn’t have to reiterate it to a lot of people who lined up before and after me. OBVIOUSLY, it was not understood. Not by me, nor by the dozen or more other people they had to tell that to, who are lining up at the photocopier with me (and that’s only the estimate of which I have seen – I was only there for less than an hour).
Okay back to the queue with the photocopied documents, they checked it and gave it back to me. I was given a stub that meant I could move on to another line for the disbursement of money. There were 2 tables and 2 people at each table. However, by the time I lined up, only one person was disbursing the money for the whole line which kind of zigzagged its flow to make it fair for everyone. I don’t know how to explain that better but the gist is, the line was confusing as it was not a line at all and is more of a square then a zigzag. I digress. The good thing was the movement was a little bit fast and the chairs were spaced out.
My turn finally! Madam with the money checked my docs and asked my affiliation with the beneficiary to which I had to write at the back of the stub. She kept the stub, counted the money, then gave it to me along with the documents I brought. I got out of the Circle before 10:30 am, not bad since I allotted my whole morning for this, not bad at all.
On the Bright Side
As Filipino citizens, it’s “mandatory” for us to look on the bright side. So here it goes: I commend the LGU for choosing a covered and well-ventilated space for this even if paasa kayo. Social distancing was observed and markers were put in place where there were no chairs. The lines were not that long and it was quick; it’s like you just lined up for your turn at the grocery on a slow day. In addition, the outdoor space in Circle gives you good vibes and the money you just received can alleviate your stress for going out and exposing yourself. I hope that the next batches and tranches have better system and communication, or better yet revert to the original plan, so everyone can receive their much-needed financial aid without fear or concerns.
And of course, thank you for your service!