Gov't studying aid for middle-class families during coronavirus outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The government's coronavirus task force is studying the possibility of providing assistance to middle-class families in Luzon badly hit by the lockdown put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the task force's spokesperson, announced this on Wednesday, April 8, days after President Rodrigo Duterte said he agreed middle-class families should be given aid but did not know where to source the funds for it.

"Pinag-aaralan pa namin (We're still studying it)," Nograles said, adding it was a topic in task force meetings. He said they have not firmed up plans yet.

Duterte gave his position on the matter after Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla appealed to the national government to assist middle-class families whose savings are getting depleted due to the outbreak.

Which program would it fall under? In studying the possibility of giving middle-income families aid, Nograles said that for now, any assistance would not come from the social welfare department's social amelioration program.

The Cabinet secretary said the social amelioration program is exclusively for low-income families.

According to research from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a family of 5 can be considered middle-class if it has a monthly income of P20,000 to P115,000. PIDS in 2015 also found majority of middle-class families come from Luzon, where the lockdown is being implemented. (READ: Who are the middle class?)

Why this matters. Middle-class families have also had to bear the brunt of decreased economic activity due to the lockdown.

In a letter to Duterte, Remulla said middle-class families, though employed, have houses on mortgage and are paying for purchases on installment. They also rely on monthly paychecks and need to still pay loans andgovernment dues despite being unable to work. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

image