In this April 3, 2020 photo, a resident of Barangay Vitalez in Parañaque City holds up an envelope containing P8,000 during the distribution of the social amelioration fund for poor households affected by the Luzon-wide quarantine.
Krizjohn Rosales
Government might discontinue financial aid in areas under GCQ
Alexis Romero ( - May 4, 2020 - 9:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — Areas that are under the more lenient general community quarantine might no longer receive the second tranche of the government's social amelioration program, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque noted that people in areas that have shifted to GCQ are now allowed to return to work.

Although certain industries are allowed to resume operations in areas under GCQ, they are subject to limits on how many people are allowed to physically report to work. Employers are allowed to institute arrangements like allowing staff to work from home.

"There is no final decision yet but it seems that we are leaning towards that because we have opened the economy in areas under GCQ and people in GCQ areas can return to work," Roque said at a press briefing.

"That is not yet final but it is possible because we have increased the number of SAP beneficiaries. It is now 23 million (households) instead of 18 (million) so, of course, the superseding event is many of our countrymen under GCQ can now work," he added.

Areas that will remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until May 15 are Metro Manila, Central Luzon except Aurora province, CALABARZON, Pangasinan, Benguet, Iloilo including Iloilo City, Cebu including Cebu City, Bacolod City and Davao City.

Malacañang, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, has also approved the recommendation of the government's coronavirus task force to include Albay province and Zamboanga City in the list of areas that will be placed under ECQ until May 15.

Roque said the president will decide on how the second tranche of the emergency subsidies would be distributed.

The government is spending P200 billion to help 18 million households sidelined by the enhanced community quarantine, a stringent measure implemented to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The administration has decided to increase the number of beneficiaries by five million households.

"The DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) has guidelines and has an appeals procedure. So perhaps the DSWD will look at the families who were rejected when they were deciding on the 18 million families (who would be given aid)," Roque said.  

"We will wait for the decision of the president on the second tranche but I can assure you that the aid to be given to the additional five million families is within the budget given to Congress for the SAP," he added.

Asked whether there would be changes in the seven-day extension given to local governments to complete the distribution of aid, Roque replied: "Well, definitely because of the additional five million families."

Local governments were supposed to complete the distribution of the first tranche of SAP last April 30. The national government has given a seven-day extension to local executives of Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, Cebu City and Davao City because of the high number of beneficiaries in their areas.

Roque said they are still expecting complaints despite the expansion of aid beneficiaries.

"There will be people who will complain they they did not receive help. But of course, the budget is limited but I think the five million a big percentage in terms of additional families that received aid," he added.

"We have to go beyond finger pointing, what is important is aid should reach our countrymen and that is the appeal of the President. Let's do everything, subject to the limitation that there should be social distancing, to distribute the aid," he added.

Roque said the government's coronavirus task force has also approved the request of some local governments for sweeper flights. He said the  flights would allow the stranded people to return to their respective areas. 

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