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Western Visayas sari-sari store owners benefit from gov’t cash aid

ILOILO CITY (PIA) -- A total of 1,286 rice-selling sari-sari stores in the region received one-time cash assistance from the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program - Economic Relief Subsidy (SLP-ERS) yesterday, September 28, 2023.

With this third batch of beneficiaries under the said program, DSWD 6 released an additional P19.290 million worth of subsidy to sari-sari store owners affected by the imposition of Executive Order No. 39 mandating the rice price cap all throughout the country since September 5.

DSWD-6 director Atty. Carmelo Nochete (4th from left) and DTI-Iloilo Division Chief Dorita Chavez (7th from left) personally lead the distribution in Guimbal town of P15,000 each to identified beneficiaries engaging in rice selling in the 1st district of Iloilo, composing the towns of Igbaras, Guimbal, Tigbauan, Oton, San Joaquin, Tubungan and Miag-ao. Photo: PIA Iloilo

As the second target of recipients identified and validated by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the said beneficiaries each received P15,000 cash aid.

The biggest chunk of the distribution came from the province of Iloilo, with a total of 307 beneficiaries, corresponding to a total of P4.605 million.

In Capiz province, a total of 144 sari-sari store rice retailers received cash aid for complying with the rice price cap in a payout distribution held at the Paseo Del Rio, Roxas City.

“I will use the money to buy well-milled and regular milled rice to replenish my stocks,” said alias Zoilo from Tapaz town.

Meanwhile, Catalina H. Tarrosa of Hamtic town, one of the 148 sari-sari store rice retailers who got assistance from Antique province, expressed her gratitude to the government.

To her, compliance with EO 39 was hard, but with this aid, she hopes to buy more stocks for her rice retail store.

Likewise, Terie Celestial of Barangay San Rafael, San Remigio town, who owns a sari-sari store, expressed optimism to succeed in her small business.

Her family is a beneficiary of the Balik Probinsya program, also from DSWD where she got her initial capital for her sari-sari store.

Personnel of the DSWD-6 conduct profiling of 103 beneficiaries from the second and third districts of Iloilo province who will avail of the P15,000 SLP-ERS cash assistance. The beneficiaries came from the towns of Badiangan, Cabatuan, Calinog, Janiuay, Leganes, Leon, Maasin, Mina, New Lucena, Pavia, Pototan, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, and Zarraga. Photos: PIA Iloilo

On the other hand, one of the four beneficiaries from Iloilo City, 59-year-old Greg T. Opong, who has been in the rice retailing business for 30 years, shared that when the order was disseminated, their sari-sari store followed suit for the sake of helping fellow consumers, even though they were wary of facing the consequences.

“Kay ti kami nga mga vendor, pinakanubo kami kumbaga ya nga negosyante sa sosyodad. So, pasalamat kami sa DTI, sa DSWD and of course kay President (Ferdinand Marcos kay dako gid ni ya nga bulig para sa amon (We, vendors, are considered as the lowest businesses in the society. That is why we are thankful to the DTI, DSWD and of course to President Marcos because this is a big help for us),” Opong said.

Meanwhile, having been in rice retailing for only a year, 23-year-old Robert Robinson Lagazo Jr. is hopeful that government aid will help them recover from the loss due to the increase in the price of rice supply.

A staff from DSWD SLP Team Iloilo turns over the P15,000 SLP-ERS cash aid to 59-year-old rice retailer Greg T. Opong from Iloilo City. Photo: PIA Region VI

“Big help gid ni sya nga makabulig naman head start sa bag-o naman nga stocks nga manug-sulod kag thankful gid kami (It will be a big help to head start our incoming stocks (of rice), and with this we are very thankful),” the young entrepreneur added.

In other areas of the region, the province of Aklan profiled and paid out to 288 beneficiaries, Negros Occidental with 314, and Guimaras with 81.

DSWD 6 Regional Director lawyer Carmelo Nochete, in a payout schedule in Guimbal town, Iloilo province, thanked the rice retailers for complying with EO 39.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 6 Regional Director lawyer Carmelo Nochete advises the beneficiaries to take care of and properly use the P15,000 cash assistance they receive under the agency's Sustainable Livelihood Program-Economic Relief Subsidy. (SLP-ERS). Photo: PIA Iloilo

In her part, DTI 6 OIC-Regional Director Ermelinda Pollentes, during the distribution for Iloilo City sari-sari store owners, reminded the recipients to use the assistance given to them properly, citing that, together with DSWD, they will still be monitoring their adherence to EO 39 and the sustainability of the support for their business.

Based on the DSWD 6 report, a total of 1,215 micro-rice retailers all over the region have received the SLP-ERS cash assistance, with a total amount of P18,225,000 disbursed.

“The provision of the subsidy aims to help micro-rice retailers cope with the impact of increasing losses due to imposition of price ceiling and freezing of rice prices in the country, as mandated by the President under Executive Order 39 series of 2023,” the agency report noted.

Under the DSWD guidelines, this relief assistance is a one-time subsidy designed to provide limited economic relief to vulnerable micro retailers, including sari-sari store owners affected by the implementation of E.O. 39, series of 2023.

With the three batches of distribution, the agency further reported that 2,504 vulnerable micro-rice retailers in the region benefited from the program, with total funds disbursed amounting to P37.5 million.

Payout center in the province of Antique for rice-retailing sari-sari stores. Photos: PIA Antique

Breaking down the recipients per province, since the first payout, some 672 beneficiaries from Iloilo province, 561 from Negros Occidental, Aklan - 414, Capiz - 358, Antique - 339, Guimaras - 128, and Iloilo City with 32.

For inquiries regarding the program, the public may reach the DSWD 6 at (033) 330-7860 or email at (AAL/FRG/PIA 6/with reports from PIA 6 InfoCens and DSWD 6)

About the Author

Franz Remar Garion

Region 6

Indicium gladio fortior est

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