First, some good news: several afflicted doctors and nurses who recovered from COVID-19 decided without hesitation to return to work. They are heroes of the finest grade.
While distribution of relief goods by barangay and city/town officials received the usual flak – from selective beneficiaries to measly goods – their non-stop efforts have largely been ungratified.
Apparently, some unscrupulous barangay/city/town staff assigned at the repacking and distribution had been dipping their hands at the relief goods – causing the ruin of the reputation of their bosses.
Netizens have predicted the opening of new sari-sari stores operated (discretely of course) by barangay captains after the lockdown.
For the past five weeks, relief efforts have targeted the marginalized sector of urban centers. Why? They’re many. The true reason? They translate to actual votes.
Some residents of depressed communities have posted their 3rd or 4th bag of goods from Kapitan or Mayor. Protests from those yet to receive have dwindled.
Then, the first howl of protest in favor of the middle class came from a government official. The so-called formal sector – the regular wage earners who pay taxes (vs. the ‘poorest of the poor’ who do not contribute to government’s funds) – were finally heard.
The middle class patiently waited until the poor had been served. But these salaried employees have limited savings and uncertain pay. They complained they too need help, more than just a bag of rice and canned sardines.
So, when the P5,000 to P8,000 per household under the social amelioration program was set into motion, the forgotten sector raised their voices. These wage earners need that money so they do not wait for those food packs.
But when DSWD gave restrictions to beneficiaries of the amelioration fund, widespread anger started simmering.
The hopes of the middle class were doused by suspicions that government officials were manipulating the hundreds of billions of pesos allocated to fight COVID-19 (who is not affected by the way).
If the poor can always look up to their local government officials during every calamity, can the middle class hope for any lifeline from the national government in this global pandemic?
The middle class cannot expect help from their employers or big corporations who are all reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19.
Economists are warning of a coming worldwide recession. It’s not a question of when but for how long. After the lockdown, it will not be business as usual.
Heads of industries and business owners will lose a few millions but still get to go home to a modest family dinner. That would not be the case for salaried employees.
Harder hit in this sector would be the blue-collar daily wage earners whose only recourse is to get into deep debt.
The poor have more options. What we don’t want is street anarchy which cannot be initiated by the working class.
When will government even give the middle class a second look? They too have children with hungry stomachs.