Budget realigned to fight COVID-19

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    THE House of Representatives is ready to meet in special session and pass a law authorizing President Duterte to realign some P275 billion of government funds to strengthen the nation’s capacity to fight the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The amount can take care, too, of subsidies for poor families and senior citizens who are most at risk in this public health emergency.

    The Senate, meanwhile, is eyeing a P200-billion special fund for the same purpose, including assistance to daily-wage earners and temporary workers who had been displaced by the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown imposed on the whole of Luzon island.

    House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez said his colleagues in the House note the importance of ensuring that the much-needed government resources are mobilized during this public health emergency.

    In a statement, Romualdez said, “Congress will be granting President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to specifically realign government funds for food, allowances to help the affected families, boost the medical requirements of the people and protection of those who are in the frontline especially our doctors, nurses and all medical personnel.”

    It is indeed a tall order that the government, specifically the Executive Department, would need to ensure that millions of Filipinos now under enhanced community quarantine are fed and afforded with other supplies needed in these difficult times.

    Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda expects no further debates today during the special session, and that Congress will essentially approve just one sentence — allowing the President to realign almost P275 billion funds that can be mobilized in this war, which is a lot more important and relevant to national survival than the war against illegal drugs.

    Salceda noted that the government aims to provide P8,000 assistance to 17.9 million Filipinos to sustain their food requirements during the enhanced community quarantine.

    We hope the supplemental budget legislation will also be supported with little nitpicking debate in the Senate, where Sen. Panfilo Lacson still wants the Department of Labor and Employment to come up with detailed figures on daily wage earners and temporary workers affected by the calamity.

     We believe the senators know when genuine work is needed and when playing to the gallery is somehow tolerated.

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