Civic groups urge Congress to pass new stimulus bill
Amid the rapid rise of community pantries across the country, civic groups on Monday called on Congress to hold a special session for a new stimulus bill and aid for poor households, arguing that mutual aid cannot and should not be a substitute for legitimate government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In separate statements, groups like Pamalakaya, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Bayan all said Congress should deliberate on Bayanihan 3 and appropriate funds for another round of social amelioration.
To help fund these programs, Congress can opt to realign funds for infrastructure and counterinsurgency projects to cash aid for the poor, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bayan.
“The rise of community pantries all over the country is the incontrovertible proof that government aid for the poor during the pandemic is sorely lacking,” he said in a statement. “Mutual aid is a temporary measure to fill gaps in the delivery of aid to the people. At the end of the day, it is government who should provide support for the people.”
Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, which donated over 50 kilograms of surplus fish and produce for some community pantries in Metro Manila, said the government should also provide fisherfolk at least P15,000 in production subsidies for at least 1 million Filipinos in the fisheries and aquatic sector.
“Being one of the country’s food security front liners, it is by right that we demand the government to help us sustain our livelihood through production aid,” said Ronnel Arambulo, leader of Pamalakaya-Rizal.
Such subsidies, he added, would also help replenish community-initiative pantries with fishery products.
“This proposal is already a bill filed in the Congress and we call on the legislators to prioritize this as urgent,” Arambulo added. INQ
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