‘Let’s make this Christmas a community celebration’

Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said this year’s Christmas celebration, which comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to fall, can be an opportunity for families and neighbors to come together and celebrate as communities.

“Everyone, let’s try to celebrate Christmas with our neighbors and neighborhood as a community,” Cayetano said in a Facebook livestream held a few minutes prior to the start of the Sari-saring Pag-asa program on December 2, 2021.

(Everyone, let’s try to celebrate Christmas with our neighbors and neighborhood as a community.)

“Sabi nga, if mahal natin ang Diyos, mahal natin ang ating kapwa,” he added.

(As it is said, if we love God, then we also love our neighbors.)

This as the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said the Philippines has been recording less than 1,000 COVID-19 infections for more than a week. On Tuesday, November 30, the country logged its lowest COVID-19 tally in nearly 17 months at 425, while on Friday, December 3, new infections were recorded at 544.

Amidst the lowering numbers, Cayetano and his allies in the Balik sa Tamang Serbisyo (BTS) sa Kongreso continue to provide direct cash assistance to families and small businesses through the Sari-saring Pag-asa.

Thursday’s program saw 100 pre-selected sari-sari store owners  from Dagupan City as beneficiaries of the P3,500 cash aid that can be used to restock their supplies and to pay for some of their bills.

This helps ensure not just the businesses’ income but also the circulation of money around the community to contribute to the economy.

“Itong taong ito, sa totoo lang basta mayroon siyang naririnig sa Dagupan City, hindi ako ang nagtetext sa kanya, siya ang nagtetext sa akin at nagtatanong lagi ‘Brother, anong kailangan niyo diyan?’” Dagupan City Mayor Brian Lim said, referring to Cayetano and his proactive initiative to offer aid and assistance.

(To tell you the truth, I don’t even need to send him a text when he learns that something has happened in Dagupan City. He’s the one who texts me and asks, ‘‘Brother, what do you need there?’)

“Itong tulong na pinapaabot nila sa inyo ay sana mapalago ninyo, mapaikot ninyo para mas matulungan niyo ang inyong mga pamilya,” he added, addressing the beneficiaries.

(May this financial aid help your businesses grow so that you can help your families better.)

This brings the program’s total number of beneficiaries to 7,094 since it was launched in mid-2021.

Sari-saring Pag-asa complements Cayetano’s Sampung Libong Pag-asa program which provides P10,000 in cash aid to select families from various sectors in order to help them recover from their financial loss.

At the core of his livelihood programs is the 10K Ayuda Bill, which if included in the 2022 national budget will mandate direct stimulus payouts of at least P10,000 to every Filipino family to help them with immediate household needs and restart their businesses.

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