MANILA – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said the government should expand the coverage of its relief assistance, and include formal and middle-income workers whose sources of income and livelihood have been crippled by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Government assistance should cover ALL those who are affected by the lockdown. Even middle-income needs help. Nawalan din naman sila ng pagkakitaan, nabawasan din ang kanilang source of income (They also lost their livelihood, their sources of income were also reduced),” Sotto said in a press statement.
“I totally agree that we should help the poor deal with the current situation. But we should also provide assistance to the other sectors of our society. They, too, are also experiencing difficulties because of the work stoppage in all industries. The government should also extend a helping hand to them,” he said.
The government is currently giving PHP 5,000 to PHP 8,000 in monthly financial assistance to the “poorest of the poor” or daily wage earners who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis.
Sotto also urged for improvements in the distribution of government aid amid growing “survival concerns” among families extremely affected by the ongoing lockdown.
He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and local government units (LGUs) can coordinate and pool together their databases to come up with a proper list of beneficiaries.
“Government assistance can cover a wider base if it is provided with proper information on the total number of households and families in the country, sources of income, vulnerabilities and other pertinent data,” Sotto said.
He likewise urged government leaders to coordinate with private donors to prevent possible duplication in the distribution of cash and food packs being given by the government and the private sector.
He cited reports that packages of food essentials have been distributed by private investors and business executives to low-income families and members of the vulnerable sectors, who are also the recipient of government cash subsidies.
“All assistance is given to the less advantaged, leaving the middle-income and formal sector workers looking at empty boxes,” he said.
“All workers and families who are experiencing difficulties because of the lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic are equally entitled to public and private assistance. There should be no social discrimination at this time because everyone, each Filipino, needs help,” Sotto said. (PNA)