MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte, if given a choice, would also grant the second tranche of cash aid to poor families from areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte wants all low-income households to receive the second wave of emergency subsidies under the national government’s social amelioration program (SAP) but his administration has insufficient funds.
Roque issued the statement following lawmakers’ call on the government to continue assisting all indigent families, including those who are living in areas where community quarantine was downgraded to GCQ.
“Let me put it this way. I think, we have complied with the law and I think the President is one with the legislators in wanting to give ayuda (assistance) to more people. Kaya nga lang po ang issue, saan natin kukunin (But the issue here is where will we get the funding for that),” he said in an interview aired on state-run PTV-4.
If Duterte had available funds, he would have included all poor families in the list of SAP beneficiaries who would benefit from the implementation of the second phase of the program, Roque said.
“Kung makahanap po tayo ng additional na pondo, syempre bibigyan po ng additional na ayuda ang mas marami pang Pilipino (If we get additional funds, of course, we will extend assistance to more Filipinos),” he said.
Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier claimed that excluding SAP beneficiaries living in areas under GCQ is a violation of Republic Act (RA) 11462 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
Rodriguez noted that all SAP beneficiaries should receive the first and second tranche of emergency subsidies if RA 11462 is to be followed.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto likewise agreed that RA 11462 mandates a two-month cash assistance to low-income families affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that prompted the government to impose community quarantine nationwide.
In a press statement, Recto said downgrading the community quarantine “does not give the government the excuse to end the assistance.”
Roque, however, said only more than 18 million indigent families would receive the second wave of cash aid due to depleting funds for the SAP implementation.
“We made an accounting of how many will receive under the first and second tranche, and we’re giving to more than 18 million under both the first and the second tranche,” he said.
A provision of RA 11469 states that a monthly emergency subsidy ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 for April and May should be given to 18 million poor families.
The government later decided to add five more million beneficiaries to the amelioration program, bringing the total number of SAP recipients to 23 million.
Malacañang on Saturday said low-income households residing in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) are eligible to receive the second wave of financial aid from the national government.
ECQ, the most stringent community quarantine, was initially imposed in the entire Luzon on March 16 to arrest the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
However, only Cebu and Mandaue cities were placed under ECQ from May 16 to 31.
Metro Manila, Laguna, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Zambales were put under MECQ.
GCQ was imposed in areas nationwide that are not under ECQ or MECQ. (ia/PNA)