DOF: P200B aid for 18 million poor families affected by COVID-19 to be distributed in next 2 months

Robie de Guzman   •   March 31, 2020   •   544

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday detailed the government’s plan to provide emergency subsidies worth P200 billion to some 18 million low-income households who lost their sources of income due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the P200 billion program for distribution in cash, and basic needs over the next two months is the largest direct financial aid package ever granted by the government to Filipino families in the country’s history.

Dominguez said this is in line with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to give priority to providing a lifeline to Filipino households heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to take care of our people first because that is the primordial duty of the government and society, especially during crises such as this pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 30,000 worldwide and battered the global economy,” he said.

The fund for the subsidy program is sourced from the accounts of various government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC), and national government realigned to combat the coronavirus crisis.

The Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, enacted on March 24, authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to realign or reallocate savings generated from GOCCs, the 2020 national budget and extended 2019 budget to bankroll the emergency subsidy program.

Under the subsidy program, how much will each vulnerable household get from the government?

The DOF said that under the ‘Bayanihan’ law, the government will give P5,000 to P8,000 each month for two months. This is computed based on the minimum daily wage rates in their respective regions.

Who are the program’s beneficiaries?

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Tuesday released a list of target beneficiaries who could avail of the program:

The target beneficiaries are families who may have at least one member belonging to any of the following vulnerable or disadvantaged sectors:

  • Senior Citizens
  • Persons with Disability
  • Pregnant and Lactating Women
  • Solo Parents
  • Distressed overseas Filipinos (referring to those who were repatriated or banned from traveling outside the Philippines on account of COVID-19 breakout, from January 2020 until the lifting of the community quarantine)
  • Members of poor indigenous communities
  • Homeless
  • Informal economy workers (such as directly hired workers, subcontracted workers, homeworkers, house helpers, public utility drivers, micro-entrepreneurs with an asset of less than P100,000, street vendors)
  • Sub-minimum wage earners (such as dishwashers or helpers in carinderia or eateries)
  • Farmers, fisherfolks and farm workers
  • Employees affected by ‘no work, no pay’ policy
  • Workers not covered by DOLE adjustment measures program
  • Stranded workers who cannot return to their permanent homes at the moment

The DOF said that of these beneficiaries, 4.3 million families are recipients of the P2,150 average monthly subsidy from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) component of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program.

“For those who are already receiving grants from various national and local programs, the government will provide them with a top-up or additional support to meet the P5,000 to P8,000 subsidy amount,” Dominguez said.

The DOF estimates that around P97.4 billion is needed per month to finance the subsidy, or almost P200 billion for two months, plus administrative costs totaling P5.1 billion.

“We will urgently deliver this emergency subsidy to millions of our fellow Filipinos who live day-to-day on subsistence earnings or ‘no-work, no-pay’ arrangements,” Dominguez said.

How will these subsidies be delivered to beneficiaries?

The DOF said the subsidies will be delivered through various national and local programs in the form of food, cash, and other essentials for the next two months, as provided in the ‘Bayanihan’ Law.

Is there an economic relief for affected businesses?

The DOF said they will eventually put in place programs for affected businesses “so the economy could bounce back as soon as we beat this lethal virus.”

“For the moment, the government must attend to dislocated families and keep Filipino workers healthy so they are ready for the subsequent resurgence in economic activity,” Dominguez said.

The Finance chief also appealed to private-sector employers to do their part in protecting the welfare of some 6.6 million Filipino families dependent on their businesses and who belong to the formal economy.

“We urge business leaders and enterprise owners to support their workers who may have savings, but might need additional assistance during this difficult time,” he said.

He also appealed to taxpayers who are still able to file and pay their taxes early to do so despite the one-month extension implemented under the ‘Bayanihan’ law in order to “fund these programs with the latest amount of borrowing.”

Bill extending Bayanihan law for 3 months filed at Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to extend for three months the validity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act amid the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been filed at the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri introduced Senate Bill No. 1546, proposing the extension of the Republic Act No. 1168 to allow the government to continue its response in addressing the threat and impact of COVID-19 in the country.

The law allows President Rodrigo Duterte to realign items in the national budget for the government’s COVID-19 response. It also grants him the authority to provide emergency support for vulnerable groups and individuals, expand medical resources to fight COVID-19, and finance emergency initiatives to keep the country afloat.

The Bayanihan law, which was signed last March 24, is only valid until June 24.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, assured that the bill will be approved before the Congress adjourns its session next week.

Metro Manila to likely transition to GCQ after May 31 —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

Metro Manila has a possibility to transition to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) after May 31, according to the Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there is a chance that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions might ease in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) held a meeting on Wednesday (May 27) to determine if the MECQ should continue after May 31.

“Chances are we will, in fact, be transitioning to GCQ in Metro Manila, according to the chief implementer and the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] Secretary,” Roque said in a statement.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) is also recommending to the IATF to put the National Capital Region under GCQ.

Once Metro Manila transitioned to GCQ, Roque said public transportation will resume operations but will have limited capacity.

He also appealed to the private and public sectors to finalize their work scheme where 50% will resume in worksites and 50% will work from home.

“We are appealing to both private and public sectors to ensure at least 50-50 workforce,” he said. –AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Mandaluyong City beefs up rapid testing after COVID-19 infects 277 tricycle drivers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Mandaluyong City government cannot decide yet on whether or not to allow tricycle drivers to operate come June 1.

This, after 277 of the 3,115 tricycle drivers who underwent rapid testing were confirmed positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Mandaluyong City Health Office is continuously conducting rapid tests among 7,000 tricycle drivers in the city to ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers.

Those who were infected are now under isolation in the city’s quarantine facility while waiting for the confirmatory tests using the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“Nagko contact tracing pa ho kami kasi scattered po ito eh. Hindi po ito kasi by area. So mina-map out pa po namin kung saan sila marami (We are doing contact tracing because these are scattered. It is not just in one area. So we are mapping out where the most number of cases are),” said Dr. Alexander Sta, Maria of the city health office.

The LGU, meanwhile, clarified that the increase in the number of confirmed cases in the city is a result of the mass testing which allowed for the immediate tracking of COVID-19 probable patients and their prompt isolation to curb further spread.

“This is coordinated kasi meron po tayong in-charge sa buong TODA. Then before po ito ni-launch, na-meeting po ang lahat ng presidente ng kanilang mga TODA so binigyan po sila ng schedule (This is a coordinated effort. There is someone in charge of the whole TODA. Before this was launched, we held a meeting with their respective presidents and all of them were given a schedule),” Sta. Maria added.

The city government will test jeepney drivers next once the tests among tricycle drivers is completed. MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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