MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday appealed to the members of the communist movement and the opposition to stop politicking and instead support the government in its fight against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it is not the proper time to criticize the government amid the health crisis in the country.

“Nakikiusap kami, mga NPA (New People’s Army), lahat ng oposisyon, lahat ng kalaban ng gobyerno, isantabi niyo muna po ang politika ngayong meron tayong krisis na umiiral sa ating bayan (We appeal to the NPA, opposition, and the enemies of the government, set aside politics amid the health crisis in the country),” Roque said.

Roque made the plea, as he slammed the supposed move by communist insurgents to stall the government’s relentless efforts to combat Covid-19.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte lamented that leftist groups stood in the way of the implementation of the national identification system which could have helped speed up the distribution of the government’s emergency subsidies to 18 million poor families.

Roque said the communists and the opposition should refrain from perpetrating acts that might hamper the government’s efforts to help individuals who are suffering due to crisis brought about by Covid-19.

“Matapos ang krisis na ito, bakbakan ulit kung gusto ninyo. Pero sa ngayon po, hayaan muna natin na makarating ang tulong ng gobyerno sa lahat ng mga nangangailangan ng tulong (After this crisis, you can criticize us if you want. But for now, let the government help the needy people),” he said.

Duterte earlier imposed an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Amid the government’s continuing battle against Covid-19, the Special Amelioration Program (SAP) has been implemented, which authorizes the government to distribute cash aid ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to some 18 million low-income households.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the lead agency tasked to oversee the implementation of SAP, has been directed to verify the names of beneficiaries listed in the roster submitted by local government units (LGUs).

Roque, however, bared that DSWD personnel are being prevented from validating the list of target beneficiaries in some NPA-infested areas.

“May ilang areas na kontrolado ng NPA, hindi pinapapasok yung mga taong gobyerno. Paano naman natin mabe-verify yung mga pangalan ng mga nakatira doon sa areas kung saan nandoon yung mga NPA (Government personnel are not allowed to enter areas being controlled by NPA. How can they verify the names of beneficiaries)?” he said.

Cash aid given to 1,228 LGUs

The national government has earmarked PHP200 billion for the distribution of emergency relief to low-income households.

In a separate virtual presser, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said around PHP65 billion have so far been distributed to 1,228 LGUs to help them ensure the speedy distribution of cash assistance to their poor constituents.

“The DSWD further distributed a total of 400,201 family food packs to LGUs in the regions, amounting to PHP156,116,899.49,” he said.

As of April 15, Nograles said the DSWD has already forged 1,387 memorandum of agreement (MOA) on SAP with cities and municipalities, excluding those in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The LGUs are mandated to enter in a MOA with DSWD to facilitate the transfer of funds for the implementation of SAP. (ia/PNA)

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