Indigenous Peoples and the COVID-19 Social Amelioration Program in Eastern Visayas, Philippines: Perspectives from Social Workers



Indigenous Peoples, social amelioration, social development, COVID-19, pandemic, Philippines


Amidst the COVID-19 response, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) suffer disproportionately and are especially at risk of being left behind due to the various inequalities they face. This paper discussed how government policies and programs in the Global South, specifically in the Philippines, treated IPs in its COVID-19 response. Specifically, this essay builds on the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program, commonly known as SAP, and its impact, or lack thereof, in the lives of IPs. Using a fusion of secondary data from news articles and government policies, and primary data from key informant interviews with social workers and SAP implementers from the regional social welfare agency of Eastern Visayas. We conducted a preliminary analysis on the various issues surrounding the SAP implementation as well as steps taken, or lack thereof, in making the program more inclusive and responsive to the plight of Filipino IPs in the region - a hazard prone area of the country.

This essay is divided into three parts. The first illustrated the virus outbreak in the country and the challenges IPs face in the current pandemic. The second discussed the policy that created the SAP and issues surrounding it. The last one highlighted the local social workers’ perspectives and recommendations on how the government could better contribute to the social development as well as general wellbeing of IPs during and after the current pandemic.

Author Biographies

Ginbert Cuaton, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Mr. Cuaton is a Research Postgraduate (RPg) student of Environmental Science, Policy and Management under the Division of Environment and Sustainability and Interdisciplinary Programs Office of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Kowloon, Hong Kong. His dissertation centers on water, energy and water security in the context of extreme weather events and contemporary crises under the supervision of Dr. Laurence Delina.

Dr. Yvonne Su, York University

Dr. Yvonne Su is an Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Refugee and Diaspora Studies in the Department of Equity Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. She is a member of the Centre for Refugee Studies and the York Centre for Asian Research.


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