‘More intervention needed to protect welfare of poor’

Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go reiterated his appeal to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and affected local government units to expedite the distribution of the Supplemental Amelioration Program to an estimated 22.9 million low-income Filipinos.

Go expressed concern for the families who have been affected by the reimposition of enhanced community quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region Plus areas amid the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases.

“Approximately 22.9 million poor people who make up 80 percent of the population of NCR and the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna that are now under ECQ should be given assistance as soon as possible,” he stressed.

He said that the President has already approved the funds “so we must expedite the provision of aid.”

“With the help of LGUs, it must be distributed to every qualified individual in (a manner that is) orderly, fast and free of politics or corruption,” Go added.

Around P23 billion was sourced from the balance of the Bureau of Treasury’s certified sources under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act following an earlier appeal from Go for the provision of additional aid to poor families affected by the imposed ECQ measures.

When asked if government funds are available to provide additional aid on top of the SAP through the proposed Bayanihan 3 Act, he said government finance managers still have to identify fund sources and thoroughly assess the financial situation of the country amid the growing needs of Filipinos.

“I asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. His answer was that they are still looking for funding. If they will not be able to identify where the funds will come from, it would be difficult to lay Bayanihan 3. For now, they are still balancing everything. They don’t want to promise ... because, first of all, we have to identify if we have the funds to get it,” Go explained.

Despite this, Go supports the move for the Senate to tackle the proposed Bayanihan 3 once sources of funding have been identified, whether through a special session or during the regular session when Congress resumes in May. He added that, for now, any available fund should be maximized and utilized immediately to help Filipinos recover from the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

Go also appealed to concerned agencies to implement urgent interventions to protect the welfare of the poor and vulnerable sectors. He stressed that saving the lives of Filipinos, which includes addressing hunger and poverty, must be the primordial concern of government.

“As chair of the Senate committee on health, our priority now is to save the lives of Filipinos. That goes hand in hand with ensuring that not only diseases are prevented but also hunger and poverty. We need to extend the ECQ. So we have to give whatever help we can to the people. As we try to keep Filipinos at home, we must also make sure that they are safe and have food for their families,” he stressed.

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