Ayuda in the time of COVID: Fact or Myth?

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR OTHERS?” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ayuda – a Filipino term which literally means “help” or “assistance” – was derived from the Spanish word ayudar meaning “to help.” This has been the “word of all days” since the start of year 2020 until now that COVID is still very much prevalent in our midst.

Wala pa ba ang ayuda ni Mayor? Yung 5,000.00 PhP mo, nakuha mo na ba? 8,000.00 PhP daw ‘yon, di ba?

These are questions commonly heard among families within the community as residents have been promised groceries and money to alleviate hunger and, temporarily, financial strife. This may not last a month for a family of five, but it would surely help in day-to-day food and meager financial obligations.

RA 11469: The Bayanihan Heal as One Act

This financial assistance was confirmed by the Department of Finance by the end of March 2020. Dubbed as “Bayanihan Heal as One Act” or Republic Act 11469, with which 200 billion PhP will be distributed to 18 million affected citizens among the densely populated areas, especially the vulnerable and poorest of families. The World Bank, Wold Health Organization, World Vision, to name a few, have followed suit with their own assistance programs. Money could be imagined pouring in; but for a population of 100 million, it won’t be sufficient and sustainable for low-income families whose bread winners lost their jobs. Also, remember that even if the ones helping out are first-world countries, they, too, are experiencing the pandemic and are also in need of assistance, somehow. Thus, many citizens resorted to social media to create and advertise their small businesses, which could be delivered via existing forwarding/ delivery facilities.

Let us dissect how this ayuda reaches the lowly citizen.

An allotted budget is set for the Local Government Units (LGUs) of the National Capital Region (NCR) and its neighboring towns/provinces, with the inclusion of Cebu and Davao, divided and distributed among districts. For instance, the Mayor of a particular city in the NCR manages the funds fairly, considering all levels of the society he is governing. He organizes a group that would purchase tons of various grocery items for all the numerous districts of the city, will have these packed and distributed to each household. At this point, more than a million pesos had already been used from the budget allocation not just for the items bought, but also for the assistance of those who have unceasingly given their time and effort to fulfill the program with the Mayor himself. But this does not end there. His program includes financial assistance to each household from every district he governs. He allocates especially for the senior citizens. He also allots for the online learning of the children by providing them writing materials as well as computer devices for their online schooling. Financial assistance could be seen here occupying only a fraction of the budget itself given by the executive government.

The Mayor, after any spending he makes within a particular quarter, expresses transparency as he presents all his districts and other people across the country via his social media page, a matrix of his expenditures.

This is only an example of good governance. There are actually LGUs that practice the worst form of governance, one that is the total opposite of what we have laid out and involves red tape and other bad government practices.

Red Tape

Seriously, the downside of this and a sad fact is when the ayuda changes hands wherein the budget that was officially allotted diminishes through the process. One can only wish to cut the “red tape” and maybe the rightful population could make use of their ayuda as needed. The act says a lot about how the dependency of a people is encouraged by the government through the dole-out system since they think it is a good means to keep them for their votes. It’s a sad reality, but it can be changed. The whole plan involves a long process which not everyone may agree with.

Overall, the ayuda is ultimately fact after all. Learn to trust and support the LGU you belong to in exchange for their support and concern for us. On the other hand, know how and when to report any unscrupulous acts being practiced or irregularities that occurs within the government. Remember, the citizens themselves help in either the growth or downfall of the government unit that they belong to. With our LGU, let us all be vigilant and ready for anything that may cross our path.

“Purihin ang gobyerno sa mga magagandang programa na naipatutupad nito. Ngunit h’wag ding mag-atubiling punahin ang mga miyembro o sangay nito na gumagawa ng mga iregularidad, upang ang mga taliwas na gawain ay maitama at ang mga salarin ay mabigyan ng karampatang kaso o parusa.”–Editor’s Note

*Currently working at the Philippine International Convention Center, where she began services 22 years ago, Kathryn Valladolid Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College–Manila; she finished a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, at the University of Santó Tomás; drawing and writing are her primary avocations.