MANILA: Philippine tricycle driver Jesus Gomez struggled to make a living even before the capital Manila went back into a COVID-19 lockdown last week that forced most of his customers to stay home and halved his meagre income.
Six months behind in rent and unable to afford cooking gas, the 77-year-old joined hundreds of others on Wednesday (Aug 11) at a covered basketball court to receive a 1,000-peso (US$20) government handout.
About 80 per cent of the more than 13 million people living in the sprawling national capital region are eligible for the one-off cash payment to ease the economic pain caused by the latest lockdown.
“It’s a big help because if there’s no cash aid I can’t buy (cooking) gas,” said Gomez, who earns 200 pesos on a good day during lockdown.
Restrictions introduced since the start of the pandemic have shattered the Philippine economy, cost millions of jobs and left many families hungry.
A resurgence in infections, partly fuelled by the hyper-contagious Delta variant that has torn through neighbouring countries, has triggered lockdowns in the capital and other areas.