By Catherine S Valente/Manila Times
President Rodrigo Duterte unveiled the government’s “largest and widest” social protection programme as the country ramps up its efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In his public address, Duterte said the P200bn relief assistance would benefit low income families badly affected by the health crisis.
“The government is now launching the largest and widest social protection programme in our country’s history to make up for the loss of economic opportunities due to the quarantine measures in place for Covid-19,” he said.
“We have P200 billion given to me by Congress to spend. I will give the money to those who have no jobs, who have part-time jobs. The rich will be excluded,” he added.
He said those in the informal sector, those who “live day to day on subsistence wages,” those on “No work, no pay” arrangements would also receive emergency support for two months.
The president said the government was procuring medical supplies, devices and personal protective equipment.
“About 1mn medical protective items are being acquired right now. We’re also ramping up our capacity to test more broadly to take a fuller and more accurate picture of the spread of Covid-19 in the country. We will also build, operate…more medical facilities and laboratories in the coming weeks,” he said.
Republic Act 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” law allows government to realign P275bn from the national budget to address the health crisis.
Of this amount, around P200bn will be utilised for the emergency subsidy plan for 18mn low income households.
These households will receive financial assistance between P5,000 and P8,000 each month for two months.
The remaining P75bn will be used for “health-related initiatives and other services.”
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said yesterday that among those who would receive assistance are families with at least one member who was a senior citizen, person with disability, and pregnant or lactating woman.
He said solo parents, indigenous peoples, the underprivileged sector and homeless citizens are also covered by the government’s social amelioration programme.
Nograles added that public utility vehicle drivers, workers, house helpers, vendors, people with small businesses, subminimum wage earners and employers affected by “No work, no pay” policy would also receive the cash aid.
“This public health crisis has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many of our countrymen, but government will exert all efforts to ensure that millions of Filipino families are taken care of,” Nograles said.
“In the coming days, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will provide details as to how deserving families will be able to receive these subsidies,” he added.
Duterte also appealed to the private sector to help deal with the national emergency.
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