MANILA, Philippines — The government has released ahead of schedule the wage subsidies of over 115,000 workers employed by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that temporarily closed during the lockdown imposed in Luzon and other parts of the country to contain COVID-19’s spread.

“As of May 1, the Social Security System (SSS), through its partnership with the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), has released wage subsidies for a total of 115,782 employees of small businesses. 106,000 beneficiaries who chose to receive the subsidy through MLhuillier are being notified via text message that their cash is ready for pickup. For 9,782 of them, the cash has been deposited directly to their bank or e-wallet accounts,” Finance Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said in a statement Saturday.

“Over the past few days, the SSS was able to process the submissions of around 76,915 employers. Upon the instruction of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the small business wage subsidy (SBWS) task force started releasing the subsidy earlier than scheduled. The electronic application and automated payout systems definitely made the release of benefits faster than programs that use manual processing,” Lambino said.

The first tranche of wage subsidies was scheduled to be distributed starting May 1 up to May 15, to be followed by another round on May 16-31.

In all, about 3.4 million affected workers nationwide will receive P5,000-8,000 for two months as a form of relief while the economy was on standstill amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

A total of P51 billion will be given away under the SBWS program.

Application for SBWS had been extended until May 8 instead of the original April 30 deadline as the SSS website—where employers needed to submit their applications—had hit a snag, having been down for one week after the program was launched last April 16.

SBWS was a joint program of the Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the SSS to extend financial assistance to displaced workers and their employers badly hit by the socioeconomic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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