Duterte assures aid for MSMEs, farmers, fisherfolk amid COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte assured farmers, fishermen, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of assistance amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
In a televised public address aired late Monday night, Duterte said his economic team had started crafting a “recovery package” for SMEs.
“The government will provide a recovery package especially to micro, small and medium enterprises to help deal with the economic effects of this pandemic,” Duterte said.
The President likewise said that farmers and fishermen would also be given assistance.
However, he did not bare specifics of the supposed aid.
“To our farmers and our fisherfolk, we have not forgotten you. The government is now employing quick response measures to help you during the crisis as well as to ensure food productivity, availability and sufficiency during the period of the pandemic. The government is here for you,” he said in an address spoken partly in Filipino.
Duterte earlier signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act No 11469, which gave him additional powers to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Included in the law is the allotment of some P200 billion assistance for poor families affected by government measures to combat the infectious disease that has so far infected 1,546 in the country, 78 of whom have died while 42 managed to recover.
“We have allotted P200 billion for low-income households who are badly affected by the current crisis. They are those in the informal sector and those who live day to day on subsistence wages or no work no pay,” Duterte said of what he called the biggest social assistance program in the history of the country.
“Arrangements, beneficiary households will receive emergency support for their 2 months based on the regional minimum wage,” he added.
Duterte placed the entire Luzon under a month-long lockdown, starting on March 16, forcing about half of the country’s population to observe home quarantine.
His directive comes just two days after a botched attempt to restrict the movement of people living and working in Metro Manila.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Worldwide, the virus already infected more than 723,300 people and killed over 33,990 while more than 151,800 people have recovered so far from the disease as of March 30.
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