Philippines secures P6-B COVID-19 aid from UN, largest since Yolanda
A fully-armed police officer patrols a residential area in Barangay Mauway in Mandaluyong CIty as the barangay is placed under "total lockdown" from May 11-13, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file
Philippines secures P6-B COVID-19 aid from UN, largest since Yolanda
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - August 4, 2020 - 5:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners on Tuesday launched a P6-billion "COVID-19 Response Plan" for the Philippines, the largest ever extended since the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013.

The response plan, drafted April 3 and continuously being revised, with the last revision made August, will assist 5.4 million poorest households residing in congested urban areas where the coronavirus can quickly spread, Gustavo Gonzalez, UN coordinator in the Philippines, said in a statement. Women and girls will be prioritized.

The aid will be coursed through the government to fund response programs against the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. To date, 23% of the funds were already "mobilized," meaning money were already allocated or disbursed.

“The pandemic is challenging the capacity of response of any single country in the world. Our role is to make best use of our global knowledge and resources to join government’s efforts to contribute to the safety and well-being of the Filipino people," Gonzalez said.

Specific programs to be funded by the aid were not specified but according to the UN, projects that address the "most immediate challenges" in health, food security, water, sanitation and risk communication will be financed.

The assistance will be extended until the end of the year but may be longer "as needs resulting from the pandemic change," Gonzalez said.

Over in Quezon City, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a briefing Tuesday cited government efforts to raise funding for what appears to be a longer pandemic fight. While the UN assistance is not a loan and will not be paid, the UN itself adds to a growing list of foreign creditors including the World Bank that extended funding to the country's pandemic response.

The latest aid from the UN is apart from possible assistance the Philippines is qualified to under the multilateral agency's $10.3 billion COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, a collaboration among UN agencies and partners to assist vulnerable countries face the wrath of COVID-19 outbreak.

The UN's announcement came the same day lockdown measures were tightened anew in Metro Manila — an urban sprawl of 16 cities and a municipality — and nearby provinces Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan after healthcare workers requested a breather from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases since movement restrictions were relaxed in June.

“As we work together to support government efforts to contain the virus against the demand to restore the economy, the UN and humanitarian partners will continue to seize opportunities to build greater resiliency, equity and inclusivity, in short, to build forward better,” Gonzalez said.

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