Toward sustained citizen-led aid-giving
The collective effort of citizen-led initiatives to make aid and support move faster and bring assistance to those disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic has been critical in providing the first wave of support needed by communities and hospitals. Online donation platforms have become notably successful, encouraging participation in community building efforts while under quarantine. In the private sector, a synergy of various companies has produced Project Ugnayan, which has raised over P1.5 billion. The leadership organization Kaya Natin, in support of the Office of the Vice President, has raised P60 million. The arts community-led Bayanihan Musikahan, with the PBSP, has raised close to P62 million. Church, alumni, university, and community initiatives have also contributed to fund-raising efforts.
Ticket2Me, led by lawyer Darwin Mariano, repurposed its ticketing platform to support various donation projects that help in the fight against COVID-19. These campaigns include fundraising platforms for the WTA Architecture Studio campaign for emergency quarantine facilities, the Lockdown Cinema Club for affected film industry workers, and the Open House project for displaced workers in the performing arts community.
Entrepreneurs Zarah Juan, Reese Fernandez Ruiz, and Anya Lim have engaged in creative partnerships to support Filipino artisans and their communities. Agrea’s Cherrie Atilano started the Move Food Initiative to provide logistics and economic assistance to farmers while increasing access to fresh produce for the public. Human Nature’s Anna Meloto-Wilk has created a fund-raising initiative to support calls to feed hungry communities. Dr. Bryan Lim, an infectious disease specialist at the forefront of battling COVID-19 in Cebu, developed a Manual of Operations for all COVID-19 centers in partnership with DOH Region 7, the UP Medical Alumni Cebu, and Bayanihan Cebu, and is currently working with architects to design COVID-19 centers and isolation centers.
An independent initiative led by Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan of the PCOO called “Hating Kapatid” matches private citizens with individuals in need of support. Most of these individuals are not qualified to receive the DSWD’s social amelioration fund and are on a no-work no-pay status with their employers. The reality is that because many Filipinos live paycheck to paycheck, this pandemic affects more than just the poorest of the poor.
The Department of Finance is looking at a P600 billion budget for relief efforts that will be downloaded to LGUs and government agencies. Along with funds raised from the private sector, this is a considerable amount that can generate the needed aid if used in the right manner.
The #COVID19PH Citizens Budget is a project led by Ken Abante and a group of volunteers and private citizens that aims to track the COVID-19 budget of the country. Aside from providing a platform for citizens to monitor the budget, it also aims to track outputs to enable health outcomes.
These citizen-led efforts are remarkable, creative, and necessary. But these efforts have to go beyond one-time aid. The private sector teaming up to focus aid on geographical areas can create continuous support that can be monitored, in addition to providing one-time relief across the board. Slowly opening up small businesses and focusing support on the supply chain can also help revive the SME and agricultural sectors.
As we endeavor to move from giving to sustainability, aid distribution must be strategic, continuous, and systematic. The shift to the new normal will create development setbacks that we as a society and economy must be ready for. And as more innovative partnerships emerge, we must begin to develop wholistic giving strategies and encourage the creation of more platforms that provide both economic and social support. In doing so, we provide the seeds and the foundations that can further the growth and resilience of the Filipino.
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Ching Jorge ([email protected]) is the executive director of Bato Balani Foundation and an Asia21 Fellow of Asia Society.
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