MANILA – The chairman of the House ways and means committee on Wednesday proposed a mass-based social mitigating measure called “Pantawid Family Quarantine” program for Luzon residents affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
In an aide-memoire addressed to the House leadership, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the poorest 20 percent of the population will be unable to survive the enhanced community quarantine without significant national government assistance.
Salceda said the existing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) could be reconfigured to provide a 13th-month grant worth PHP6 billion for 2.54 million beneficiary families in Luzon.
He also noted that a full-year advance of PHP3,600 per family of the Universal Cash Transfer (UCT) under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law could be distributed to 6.2 million households, mostly informal families.
“They are funded in the 2020 GAA (General Appropriations Act). They are well-targeted to the lowest 50 percent and the beneficiaries are well-listed and qualified. These two combined will benefit eight million families,” he said.
“I am still advocating for supplemental appropriations. But for now, this proposal will provide immediate relief,” he added.
He suggested that the conditions tied to the grant of the 4Ps may be waived for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine, considering that most of the conditions are tied to the health sector, whose key priority given the health emergency, maybe to reserve capacity for the coronavirus response.
He said a block grant for poorer local government units in Luzon to fund subsistence allowances for the poorest residents may also be considered.
President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire island of Luzon under the enhanced community quarantine until April 12 due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Over the period, work and mass public transportation are suspended for one month.
However, health and emergency front-line workers are still required to go to work.
Among those exempted are employees of the Department of Health (DOH), DOH-accredited hospitals, hospitals of local government units, and provincial city and rural health units.
Also exempted are private health workers and volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross and the World Health Organization. (PNA)