The government’s flagship cash-for-work program has provided emergency employment to close to one million workers and paid more than P4.5 billion in wages in just close to two months, the labor department reported on Sunday.

As of December 28, DOLE said 939,209 informal sector workers hard hit by the Covid 19 pandemic and those affected by the successive typhoons last month were served under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the record implementation of TUPAD is pursuant to the directive of President Duterte to speed up assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

“And this was precisely the instruction we issued to our regional offices: expedite the release of assistance to our workers,” Bello said.

In a report to the labor chief, the Bureau of Workers with Special Concern (BWSC) said of the number of beneficiaries, some 797,222 had been paid while 141,989 have ongoing works. BWSC manages the TUPAD program.

BWSC Director Karen Trayvilla said with the expeditious program implementation, TUPAD beneficiaries may reach more than one million with more funds still available from the P6-billion appropriation under the Bayanihan Act 2.

“We expect more informal sector workers to benefit from TUPAD under Bayanihan 2. That may exceed one million,” Trayvilla said, noting that her office had originally targeted less than a million beneficiaries.

Trayvilla said DOLE had relaxed the program depending on the needs of the region. She said beneficiaries are paid for work done for a minimum of 10 days to a maximum of 16 days based on the threshold requirements in the area.

The National Capital Region had the biggest TUPAD allocation under Bayanihan 2 which stood at P923.9 million followed by Region 4A at P593.2 million and Region 3 with P587.1 million.

TUPAD is a regular program of the Department of Labor and Employment to provide emergency employment for displaced or disadvantaged workers in the informal sector affected by calamities and disasters.