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No additional aid for extended lockdown – Palace

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the extension of the strictest quarantine in Metro Manila and four provinces by another week, the government will no longer be providing additional aid to low-income residents in these areas, Malacañang said on Monday.

The P1,000 per individual — with a P4,000 limit per family — that the government readied for the one-week enhanced community quarantine will be all that beneficiaries in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal could expect.

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The lockdown has since been extended for another week.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press briefing that the first week of the lockdown coincided with holy week, so people only lost two working days since Wednesday to Sunday were holidays.

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In a separate television interview, Roque also said the government no longer has funds for additional aid and Congress is on recess so it could not approve a supplemental budget unless a special session is called.

“We acknowledge that this [P1,000] is not enough, but it is to provide for the bare essentials of life for two weeks, where the number of days where our countrymen were unable to work is about seven days,” he said.

Roque does not think the lockdown would be extended for another week.

The local governments are expected to start the distribution of the aid on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Irene Dumlao, the spokesperson for the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Cash or in kind

The local governments could choose to provide the assistance in cash or in kind.

But Sen. Joel Villanueva said the cash aid should also come in second and third waves, much like the prevailing pandemic, and treat the P1,000 aid this year as a downpayment.

He said local governments must give the latest tranche of aid to their citizens in cash and through any of the digital platforms, instead of converting this to goods, as this may become another opportunity for the spread of the COVID-19, Villanueva said on Monday.

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“The win-win solution is to go for two parallel tracks: personal and digital. What is important is the distribution will be swift, and no opportunity is given for the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Meanwhile, EcoWaste Coalition on Monday called on national and local government officials to respond to the needs of workers in the informal waste sector, whose main sources of livelihood were hit by the continued lockdowns.

“Members of the informal waste sector are among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 lockdowns because of the restrictions on movements that disallow them from going door-to-door or roaming the streets to recover recyclable materials from waste,” Aileen Lucero, the group’s national coordinator, said.

“With their work further disrupted due to the extended [lockdown] in NCR Plus, informal waste workers who are daily wage earners will need rapid and adequate assistance to enable them to meet their basic human survival needs,” she added.

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TAGS: coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19 aid, NCR Plus ECQ
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