President Rodrigo Duterte wants all low-income families who received the first tranche of coronavirus emergency subsidy to again get the second tranche, even if their areas were downgraded to general community quarantine (GCQ).
This comes after the government announced only families in areas still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) starting May 1 will be handed out the second tranche.
"He (Duterte) said, he is ordering DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado, quote, to 'study budgetary allocations of line agencies and check what can be realigned' because he wants all 23 million Filipino (families) who had been given aid to get the second tranche," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Friday, May 15 in a DZRH radio interview.
The DBM had earlier released some P200 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for financial aid to families since lockdown measures cut them off from sources of livelihood.
The funding was supposed to cover only 18 million poor households, including 4.4 million 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) beneficiaries. But the government decided to expand this to 5 million more families not included in government lists, leading to a total of 23 million families to be covered by aid.
These families are supposed to get P5,000 to P8,000 (depending on the regional minimum wage in their area), every month from April to May.
The funding was supposed to be released in two tranches, one to cover April, and the second for May. But since then, some Luzon areas previously under lockdown were downgraded to GCQ.
To cover even more poor families in ECQ areas, the national government coronavirus task force decided take away the aid from families in newly-downgraded areas.
Duterte's own former social welfare chief, Judy Taguiwalo, had called on the government to continue giving the second tranche to these families. She said these families would still not have recovered their sources of livelihood right after the lifting of ECQ.
Status of distribution. As of May 10, the deadline for local government units to distribute the first tranche, the pay-out rate reached 97% or nearly all, according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.