MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced a shift in policy in the government's cash aid program, where it will now only prioritize poor families in areas under total lockdown.
Roque said Friday, April 24, that poor households, which will be part of areas on general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 1, would no longer receive the promised cash aid for that month.
"For GCQ areas, iko-consider po ang reprioritizing ng SAP (social amelioration program) cash subsidy towards ECQ (enhance community quarantine) areas. Ibig sabihin po ang SAP po na para sa areas na hindi na po under ECQ, siyempre ang cash subsidy ay kinakailangan na ibuhos sa mga areas under ECQ pa rin," Roque said.
(For the GCQ areas, we are considering the reprioritizing of SAP cash subsidy towards ECQ areas. This means that the SAP cash subsidy for areas no longer under ECQ, the cash subsidy will now shifted to areas that are still under ECQ.)
This means that the extra funds can be used for other beneficiaries who initially did not make the cut for the subsidy program.
Roque made the announcement as President Rodrigo Duterte extended the total lockdown in Metro Manila and other high-risk provinces, leaving millions in home quarantine.
Under the relaxed rules of the GCQ, full operations of agriculture and essential business activities are allowed, while schools, leisurely activities and big gatherings are still banned. (EXPLAINER: What happens under general community quarantine?)
Mass transportation will also resume under GCQ, but only at a limited capacity.
In a statement on Friday, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista said that they defer issuing a comment on the matter, as they were tasked to craft the guidelines for the new policy.
"The guidelines of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) will be anchored on the written directive from the OP (Office of the President)," Bautista said.
The Bayanihan law states that 18 million poor families around the country should receive P5,000 to P8,000 for the month of April and May, depending on the regional minimum wage in their area.
A big chunk of the cash aid for the month of April has yet to be disbursed – only 6.16 million families out of the target 18 million have received the cash aid amounting to a total of P30.59 billion, as of DSWD's April 23 data. – Rappler.com