MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. reiterated the government’s resolve to provide assistance to Filipinos and elevate their quality of life.

In his speech during the distribution of various government assistance in Northern Samar on Friday, the President said the administration is prioritizing help for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Nandito po kami para matiyak na ‘yung mga talagang bumagsak, kasi talagang maraming tinamaan ng mabigat, diyan naubos ang kanilang savings, nagsara ang kanilang negosyo, hindi na sila makabalik, ‘yun ang mga hinahanap namin para tulungan dahil ‘yan ang puno’t dulo ng ating ekonomiya, ang mga maliliit na negosyo, ang MSMEs (We are here to ensure that those who slumped, because there are a lot who were hit hard, their savings were exhausted, their businesses closed, those who find it hard to recover, those are what we are looking for to help because they are the roots of our economy, the small businesses, the MSMEs),” the President said.

Marcos said the government wants to invigorate and revive the MSME sector and assured cooperatives of government aid.

He led the distribution of assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Serving as the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, the President witnessed the turnover of two four-wheel drive tractors, three multi-cultivators, four pump irrigation systems, a cacao processing facility, various agricultural livelihood projects, four units of hand tractors, four rice threshers and four rice cutters.

The Chief Executive also handed over 21,480 bags of certified rice seeds, 300 bags of hybrid rice seeds, fertilizer discount vouchers, and PHP5,000 each in financial assistance to 1,220 farmer-beneficiaries in Northern Samar.

He likewise supervised the distribution of assistance from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, such as the 16 deep sea fish aggregating devices (payao), three high-density polyethylene cages, 150 sets of seaweed farm implement and fingerlings, and feeds for tilapia production in ponds.

Also given away were 20 units of 30-foot and five 22-foot fiberglass boats, mangrove crablets, and formulated feeds; while the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority donated two hectares of abaca mother block nursery to local government units (LGUs); and four infrastructure projects were handed over to the provincial government.  

The President similarly distributed financial assistance, amounting to PHP150,000, to eight distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and scholarship assistance worth PHP10,000 each to two dependents under the OFW Dependent Scholarship Program.

Medical assistance worth PHP30,000 were likewise given to two beneficiaries under the Welfare Assistance Program and financial assistance worth P20,000 to a bereaved OFW family.

The President graced the “Kadiwa ng Pangulo” in Catarman, held at the provincial capitol covered court, which was participated in by 39 sellers from four farmer associations, 15 DTI “Diskwento (Discount) Caravan” exhibitors, DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program Associations, and LGU exhibitors.

Kadiwa provides farmers and fisherfolk with a ready market where they can sell quality and affordable agri-fishery commodities directly to consumers.

To date, the Marcos administration has already conducted 7,283 Kadiwa activities, generating PHP697.87 million in sales and benefiting 1.84 million households and 3,017 farmers’ cooperatives and associations and agri-fishery enterprises.  

Marcos also visited the job fair organized by DOLE in Barangay Dalakit, Catarman town where 30 local employers dangled 328 local vacancies.

DTI and the DA provided special frontline services during the job fair along with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Social Security System, Pag-IBIG Fund, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

PSA data show that some 48.26 million Filipinos are employed as of May 2023, around 2.18 million higher than the 46.08 million employment rate in the same period last year. (PNA)