MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to work closely with local government units (LGUs) to provide assistance to families severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Ngayon na nakakulong sa bahay ang marami sa ating kababayan dahil sa enhanced community quarantine, dapat siguraduhin ng ating pamahalaan na meron silang makakain araw-araw (Now that many of our countrymen are quarantined at home, the government should ensure that they have food to eat every day),” Angara said in a statement.
“We have to be proactive and not wait for the situation to escalate before acting. As President Rodrigo Duterte has said, we have the funds to cope with COVID-19. The people need to see this is true and it will be difficult for them to believe if they have nothing to eat,” he said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Finance pointed out that apart from the calamity funds at the disposal of the LGUs, the DSWD has PHP1.25 billion under its quick response fund (QRF) and PHP8.7 billion for the protective services program (PSP) in the 2020 General Appropriations Act that could be used for the purpose.
“These funds could be tapped to provide financial and food assistance to the individuals and families affected by the community quarantine,” Angara said.
The QRF is a stand-by fund for relief and recovery programs intended to normalize the situation and living conditions of communities or areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics or complex emergencies as quickly as possible.
Under the 2019 GAA, the DSWD also received a similar amount of QRF, out of which PHP915 million was unused as of end-November.
The PSP, on the other hand, is used by the DSWD for the provision of cash assistance to individuals and families in crisis situations.
In the past, the cash assistance from the PSP was provided for transportation and medical aid, burial, education, and food assistance, a stipend to indigent senior citizens not covered by social pension systems, cash/food for work and food packs, among others.
Angara said the PSP could also be used to purchase “Covid-19 essentials” such as alcohol, soap and face masks.
He also urged the Department of Budget and Management to facilitate the release of the funds to the DSWD, LGUs and other agencies so that they could respond quickly during these trying times.
“Sa ganitong sitwasyon na ang mga tao ay hindi na malaman kung saan kukuha ng pera pambili ng pagkain at gamot, nagkakaroon ng mga insidente ng paglabag sa pinapatupad na quarantine (In this kind of situation when the people don’t even know where to get the money to buy food and medicine, there will be incidents of violations on the imposed quarantine),” he said.
“Let us not wait for people to get desperate and start behaving irrationally. Exert all efforts to reach out to them and provide them with their basic requirements right away,” Angara said. (PNA)