Shoppers queue at a grocery store in Araneta Ave. in Quezon City on March 27, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
No need for new law to help middle class — COVID-19 task force
Alexis Romero ( - April 8, 2020 - 5:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — There is no need for a new law to provide relief to the middle class during the Luzon-wide quarantine, Malacañang said Wednesday, as the government studies ways to fund its social aid package at a time of slow economic activity.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla recently urged President Rodrigo Duterte to include the middle class in the government program that seeks to help sectors sidelined by the quarantine restrictions.

Remulla noted that the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affects everyone, including the middle class, whom he said are often overlooked even if they pay the most taxes. Duterte agreed with the governor and vowed to look into his suggestion.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Bayanihan Law, which provided Duterte additional powers to fight COVID-19, is enough to extend help to the middle class during the lockdown.

"A new law is not needed. I think perusing through the law, the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, I think it’s extensive enough to cover or look for a solution to this problem," Nograles said.

"I don’t know when they (economic managers) would finish (the study) but they’re working on it already and we’re seeing some proposals, possible proposals," he added.

A separate aid program, however, may be needed because the social amelioration program targets low-income households, informal workers and other vulnerable groups.

"If you read the law, it states, 'Provide an emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income households.' So you (middle class) cannot be covered by the emergency subsidy. Obviously, the executive can only work with what Congress gives us," Nograles said.

"Different agencies provide different packages. That being said, what will be the program for the middle class? We will discuss that. Number one, we have to define who the middle class is...Number two, will they be qualified for social amelioration if they lose their jobs? So things like that will be discussed," he added.

Nograles said the government can also provide other forms of assistance to middle income families. He assured the public that the social amelioration program for poor households won't be affected even if the government rolls out an aid program for the middle class.

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