The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are stretching far beyond the immediate spread of the disease. Breaking the chain of its transmission caused reduced incomes, massive layoffs, economic downturn, and food insecurity which were primarily experienced by the marginalized.

But with the current situation, the awareness of the residents of Abra de Ilog has increased on the importance of different livelihood selections, and focusing on agricultural development could help them recover from financial stresses.

On 12 January 2021, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) MIMAROPA thru the Occidental Mindoro Field Office awarded livelihood grants to the municipality of Abra de Ilog as DOLE’s Accredited Co-Partner (ACP), amounting to P9,000,000.00 benefitting 734 members from 29 workers’ association under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP).

Among the projects to be established are: rice retailing, hog, cattle and poultry raisings, agricultural supplies trading, food processing, motorcycle spare parts selling, mini market, tailoring, and eco-bag production, all shall be made available in the various areas of Abra de Ilog.

On behalf of the beneficiaries, Nelita Venturanza expressed her gratitude to DOLE as she also witnessed the awarding.

“Malaki po ang pasasalamat namin sa tulong at oportunidad na ipinagkaloob ninyo sa aming mga taga-Abra upang muli kaming makabangon at makapagsimula ng negosyo. Makakaasa po kayo sa aming lahat na pagbubutihin at palalaguin namin itong aming kabuhayan,” Venturanza said. (We are very grateful for the help and opportunity you provided here in Abra for us to rebuild and start a business. Rest assured that we will nurture this livelihood).

Through this livelihood assistance and the opportunity to start anew, these groups can now recover gradually from the financial stresses and soon could generate employment in the entire locality.

Representing DOLE MIMAROPA Regional Director Atty. Joffrey M. Suyao, DOLE Occidental Mindoro Provincial Director said, “Reflecting the severity of the situation, DOLE shall always be committed in its mandate to assist our vulnerable workers since this is the crucial time that you need our service. Solidarity is what we need right now as we transition to the economic healing. We must recognize this opportunity to build back better.”

On the other hand, Abra De Ilog Mayor Eric A. Constantino lauded the Department’s indefinable assistance in helping their constituents to recover from their losses brought by the pandemic.

“Maraming salamat sa DOLE sa walang sawang suporta na ibinibigay ninyo sa bayan ng Abra de Ilog simula noon pa man. Nararapat ngang sa panahon ngayon ay mag-bayanihan tayo upang sabay-sabay tayong humilom sa idinulot ng pandemiyang dumaan.” Mayor Constantino said. (Thank you very much DOLE for the tireless support you have been providing to the town of Abra de Ilog ever since. We really need to work together for us to heal as one against pandemic).

Meanwhile, Lone District Representative Hon. Josephine R. Sato also congratulated the beneficiaries and challenged them to be of good example and help others who are also struggling. “As we go through this trying times and uncertainty, let us always remember that whatever hardship, challenges and fears that we are facing, these too shall pass. Help will come and by the grace of God, we can overcome it.” she added.

DILP seeks to contribute to poverty reduction and reduce the vulnerability to risks of the working poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers either through emergency employment, and promotion of entrepreneurship and community enterprises.

End/ Gener L. Francisco