Duterte: Gov’t has no money for new cash aid

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    PRESIDENT Duterte late Sunday night said the government no longer has the money to provide cash assistance to poor families who will again be sidestepped in his decision to revert Metro Manila and four nearby provinces to the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) classification from August 4 to 18.

    The President, in his public address to the nation after meeting select members of the Cabinet and the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said the administration has been doing its best to arrest the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and cushion its impact, along with that of the lockdowns, to the public despite the limited resources of government.

    “Ngayon magsabi kayo, ‘i-lockdown mo na ang Maynila, ang ibang lugar, entire Philippines para talagang wala nang mahawa. Wala ka nang mahawaan, wala ka nang mahawa.’ Problem is wala na tayong pera. I cannot give food anymore and money to people (Now you will say ‘lockdown Manila, other places, the entire Philippines to avoid transmission.’ You can no longer transmit the disease. Problem is we don’t have money anymore. I cannot give food anymore and money to the people anymore),” Duterte said.

    The government had provided a P5,000 to P8,000 emergency cash aid under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) to low-income families and members of vulnerable sectors living in areas under the enhanced community quarantine from April to May.

    More than P100 billion had been provided in the first tranche covering the month of April while the second tranche, covering the month of May and those who were waitlisted or did not receive their cash aid in April, is still being distributed at present.

    Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, during the Laging Handa network briefing, said the department had already distributed 63 percent of the second tranche or P58.5 million that benefited 8.979 million low income families and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (4Ps) beneficiaries.

    Bautista said the DSWD will try to complete the 100 percent payout by the second week of August.

    Asked about the situation of those living in the MECQ areas in the next two weeks, he said, at present, the DSWD is ready to provide family food packs and other relief packs to those who would need it.

    He said those who need it may have to coordinate with the field offices and local government units concerned to help the DSWD identify them.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, in a briefing on Monday, said there is no talk yet about a third tranche of SAP and it may be up to Congress if they would include another payout for poor households in the pending Bayanihan Act 2.

    Roque, in a separate interview with dzMM Teleradyo, said the executive could not just realign appropriations without the necessary laws.