As NCR goes into ECQ, DBM chief’s leave is ‘lamentable’ — Bayan Muna
MANILA, Philippines — With Metro Manila going into lockdown to stem the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, partylist group Bayan Muna on Sunday lamented the timing of Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado’s medical leave.
Avisado’s leave was announced as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to source funds that will aid Metro Manila residents who will be affected by the reimposition of the most restrictive enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to August 20.
“The timing is truly lamentable considering that we are on the verge of a surge of the Delta variant and about to enter another hard lockdown with the [ECQ] and people need ayuda (cash aid) from the government,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said in a statement.
“Just the other day Sec. Avisado said that he was still trying to find funds for the much-needed ayuda and awaited only a clear directive from President Duterte. Was such directive already given? Was he able to find the budget to help our people before the ECQ is implemented?” he added.
Zarate said ayuda funds can be sourced from the Duterte administration’s National Budget Circular 586, as well as from the 4.5 billion presidential confidential and intelligence funds, even the funds of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
According to Zarate, Congress is also still waiting for the executive’s budget proposal for 2022 from the DBM.
“Is it done already? There is a need to immediately tackle the budget as we are still in the middle of a raging, surging pandemic; we must all act with urgency. This is also the reason why we are pushing for the fast-tracking of the Bayanihan 3 so that funds can be allotted for aid, [as soon as possible],” said Zarate.
“The Bayanihan 3 should be separate, supplemental budget this year. It should not be included in the 2022 budget proposal because our affected people need the ayuda now,” he added.
NCR Plus is scheduled to be placed under ECQ from August 6 to August 20 amid the rising cases of the more-transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant.
Before the scheduled lockdown, however, the region will be under a general community quarantine “subject to heightened restrictions with additional restrictions” until August 5.
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