MANILA – As the country undergoes strict quarantine measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday said he will ensure that the government cash aid provided under Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” reaches the poorest Filipinos and those who are most in need of financial assistance.
In an interview with radio host Ted Failon, Go said, as a legislator, he will closely monitor the provision of the cash and food aid to low-income Filipino families.
"Cash po ang dapat ibigay sa kanila para magamit po kaagad. Good for 2 months po ito (Cash should be given so that they can use it immediately. This is good for 2 months),” he said.
He said the low-income families will receive the cash aid, depending on the minimum wage in their areas.
“Halimbawa, sa Metro Manila, kung mas malaki ‘yung ating daily wage, ‘yung sweldo po dito sa Maynila, so PHP8,000. Pag sa mga probinsya naman po ay PHP5,000 (Like in Metro Manila, it has higher daily wage, so PHP8,000. In the provinces, it’s PHP5,000)," he said.
Go also assured that poor families who are not under the government's conditional cash transfer program may still receive cash aid as long as local government units identify them as indigent families.
"Ang ating 4Ps beneficiary sa ngayon ay about 4 million families. Ang target po nito ay about 18 million families. So kasama na po rito lahat ng mga taxi drivers, tricycle, trisikad, habal-habal, lahat po, mga vendors, lahat po ng nangangailangan ng tulong, lalung-lalo na po ‘yung mga 'isang kahig, isang tuka' na inaasahan lang po ang kanilang sahod or kita sa araw-araw (Our 4Ps beneficiaries now is about 4 million families. The target of this (law) is about 18 million families. So, taxi drivers, tricycle, pedicab, habal-habal, all vendors, everyone who needs help, especially the poorest of the poor who relies on daily wages)," he said.
The law provides that in the grant of the PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 cash subsidy, the current Conditional Cash Transfer program and rice subsidy of the government shall be taken into account. So, if a CCT beneficiary presently receives PHP1,500 from the program, the emergency subsidy will provide PHP6,500 to reach the PHP8,000 maximum amount.
According to the 2020 projections based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the Philippines presently has 18 million low-income households. The law also authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to expand and enhance the existing Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government.
“Ako naman po ay nasa legislative po ako, isa po akong mambabatas. Nakatutok po kami rito at magre-report po ang Executive sa Kongreso kada linggo. Ang amin po rito ay siguradong dapat makarating po doon sa pinaka informal sector natin, ‘yung mga nangangailangan po ng tulong … pinilit nating manatili sa kanilang mga pamamahay para po maging safe dahil mayroon tayong lockdown nga sa panahong ito at huwag natin silang pabayaan (Since I am in the Legislative (branch), we will focus here and the Executive will report to Congress every week. We will make sure that necessary assistance will reach the most informal sector. We forced them to stay home due to lockdown and we should not neglect them)," he said.
In providing the government cash assistance, Go said target families should be profiled through the social amelioration program and should be included in the list of families that will be certified by the local government unit (LGU).
"Pagkatapos (then), the LGU shall prepare the list of target beneficiaries and then ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) shall review the said list and documents and determine the amount necessary for transfer," he said.
Go also said "the assistance will be given directly to the target beneficiary" based on the Implementing Rules and Regulations which is currently in the works.
As for apartment renters and tenants who may need additional time to pay for their rent falling due during the quarantine period, Go said the R.A. 11469 will allow them a 30-day grace period without incurring interests, penalties, fees or other charges.
"Sabi ko nga, ‘wag natin pahirapan ang lahat, trabahante pati negosyante. Kailangan po maging flexible po tayo (As I’ve said, let’s not make life difficult for everyone, workers and even businessmen. We need to be flexible)," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ on Tuesday (March 24) which grants him additional powers to implement measures to fight the coronavirus spread. (PR)