Robredo’s promise: P216B for ayuda in first 100 days
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo is looking at setting aside P216 billion from the government’s coffers if she is elected president in the May 2022 national elections to fund the “ayuda” or social aid for families affected by lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robredo shared during the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that if she wins, her first 100 days will address the most pressing problem today — the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn that left people jobless and hungry.
“In our first 100 days, we will focus on addressing our most urgent problem—controlling the pandemic and mitigating its impact on our people’s lives […] We will set aside P216 billion in the national budget for ayuda distribution to protect families from hunger and provide them with their basic needs without being forced to go to work,” Robredo said.
Additionally, she said, the healthcare system should be strengthened so that the poor are not burdened with expenses when they become ill.
Robredo noted that this can be done by taking care of healthcare workers to ensure that the country’s health system would be robust while strengthening COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts — plans she mentioned in her Freedom from COVID-19 program.
“This means increasing support for our healthcare workers, improving hospital capacity, and making COVID testing more accessible to more Filipinos. We will ensure vaccines for all and increase the capacity of Local Health Units to allow them to dispense vaccines on their own,” Robredo said.
“We will start stockpiling different COVID treatment medicines and deploy them to areas where there are shortages. We will also accelerate the rollout of Universal Health Care by concentrating on enrolling every Filipino in the UHC system in the first 3 months. While people are signing up, we will start partnering with local health service providers to deliver health services,” she added.
However, the vice president admitted that it would be hard to implement these measures if the people did not trust the government.
“All of these can be done only if we rebuild trust in our institutions—and that’s exactly what we are going to do. We will put our house in order and restore confidence in the Philippine government,” she said.
“We will continue to engage all of society in rebuilding our nation and making the lives of all Filipinos better, safer, healthier, and more secure,” she explained.
During the earlier part of the year, people called for a P10,000 social aid for low-income families living in areas under hard lockdown, as only essential industries were allowed to operate during the surges.
However, the government provided a P1,000 per head assistance, with a cap of P4,000 per family. Many groups pointed out that this was not enough to even feed a family of five for a week.
Currently, COVID-19 numbers in the country have been seeing a downward trend, which led the national government to ease quarantine restrictions in many areas, including Metro Manila, which is now under Alert Level 2. Still, several concerns increased public mobility, plus the continuous exposure of children outdoors may lead to another surge in infections.
Department of Health (DOH) officials and health experts have warned that the pandemic’s threat along with other variants — like the Delta subvariant — is still present.