THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P2.5 billion to replenish the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DoLE) cash aid program for displaced workers but said the remaining request for P5 billion worth of additional funding, which could support 1 million more people out of work, is unlikely to be approved.

Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado told BusinessWorld that the P2.5 billion will be the “last” replenishment for the labor department’s cash aid programs since applicants and beneficiaries will be transferred to the newly-launched wage subsidy program of the Department of Finance (DoF).

“Last na po ‘yung P2.5 billion per instruction of President Rodrigo R. Duterte kasi all the rest will be provided na with financial support under the DoF program for all workers under the MSMEs (The P2.5 billion is the final tranche per instruction of President Rodrigo R. Duterte because all the rest will be provided financial support under the DoF program for all workers of small firms,” Mr. Avisado said by mobile phone Monday.

Mr. Avisado said the DBM has no other pending requests from DoLE.

Labor Officer-in-Charge Assistant Secretary Dominique R. Tutay said the recently-approved P2.5 billion, which will be sourced from the agency’s realigned budget, will support 300,000 more workers under the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) with additional P1.5 billion funding while the remaining P1 billion will be used for another aid program known as TUPAD, or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

“The P2.5 billion will be spent as follows: P1.5 billion for CAMP to benefit about 300,000 more workers [and] P1 billion will be for TUPAD. If P5 billion is approved and released, it will benefit 1 million more workers,” Ms. Tutay said in a mobile phone message on Monday.

CAMP provides P5,000 in cash aid for workers displaced due to the Luzon-wide lockdown. The program had an initial P1.6 billion worth of funding.

Meanwhile, TUPAD aims to provide temporary emergency employment for workers in the informal sector. It had an original budget of P1.5 billion.

Initially, Ms. Tutay said DoLE requested P7.8 billion in additional funding for its programs, P2.8 billion from budget realignments and an additional P5 billion to support its programs.

Applications for relief have totaled 1.6 million, and DoLE stopped accepting applications for CAMP starting April 15. Displaced workers were estimated at 1.7 million as of Sunday.

As of April 18, DoLE said it disbursed P1.32 billion to 264,154 workers, leaving the program with a balance of P300 million.

Mr. Avisado said DBM also released to DoLE P100 million worth of financial assistance for displaced private sector employees on March 18 as well as P15 million for the emergency repatriation program of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

DoF’s P51-billion wage subsidy program for employees of small businesses aims to provide P5,000-P8,000 worth of cash aid to some 3.4 million displaced workers, depending on the prevailing minimum wage rate. The program is set to be distributed in two tranches, the first on May 1-15 and the second tranche on May 16-31.

CAMP beneficiaries who have received P5,000 will only be eligible for a one-month wage subsidy. — Beatrice M. Laforga