(File photo)

MANILA – Over 99 percent of close to PHP2.7 billion funds for cash assistance to low-income beneficiaries affected by the recently enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have already been distributed by local government units (LGUs) in the province of Laguna.

Ang probinsiya ng Laguna ay nasa 99.08 percent na po ng PHP2.69 billion ang naipamigay para sa 2.69 million na mga Laguna residents o beneficiaries. Tatlong LGUs na lang ang hindi nakakatapos, at sa linggong ito ay sisiguraduhin natin na matatapos na ang buong probinsiya ng Laguna (Aid distribution in the province of Laguna is at 99.08 percent PHP2.69 billion has been distributed to 2.69 million Laguna residents or beneficiaries. Only three LGUs have not finished, and this week, we will make sure that the entire province of Laguna will complete the distribution),” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People aired on Wednesday night.

In Bataan, Año said 80.33 percent out of the PHP700 million financial assistance have been disbursed to 560,901,000 recipients, with two out of 12 LGUs -- Samal and Abucay -- completing the aid payout.

Metro Manila LGUs have earlier completed the payout of the financial aid.

Don't refuse swab test

Meanwhile, Año said individuals with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) symptoms or persons who came into close contact with persons who are positive for the disease who refuse to be tested for the coronavirus can face imprisonment or other appropriate penalties.

He said the pandemic would not be controlled if people would keep avoiding swab tests, in reaction to reports that some people are doing away with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests because of "inconvenience".

RT-PCR testing remains to be the gold standard for confirming the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

“With our granular lockdown implementation, there was only one issue that was reported to us. Due to the lockdown, some individuals refused to take the test. These are the close contacts and the exposed ones. Their reason is that if they test positive, they will not be able to work and will not be able to feed their families,” Año stressed.

The DILG chief added that Covid-19 symptomatic individuals or those exposed to people with the virus are required to be tested as per Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Ito po ay isang delikado na rason sapagkat kung ito pong mga exposed at close contact ay positive talaga at hindi nila alam, sigurado po ay mahahawaan nila ang mga miyembro ng kanilang pamilya at mga kasamahan sa trabaho nang hindi niya nalalaman lalo na kung siya ay asymptomatic. Mas matipid pa din at mas epektibo kung magpa-swab test sila. Anyway, magbibigay naman po ng assistance ang ating LGUs at DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) (This is a dangerous reason because if these people who are exposed and close contacts are really positive and they are not aware of it, they will surely infect their family members and co-workers without them knowing especially if they are asymptomatic. It is even more economical and more effective if they will undergo a swab test. Anyway, our LGUs and DSWD will provide assistance to them),” he added.

Año reminded the public that refusal to swab tests is punishable with a fine of between PHP20,000 and PHP50,000 or up to six months imprisonment under RA 11332.

Pinapakiusapan natin ang ating mga kababayan, kung kayo po ay close contact or exposed, kailangan po tayong magpa-test. Otherwise po, mag-self quarantine tayo ng 14 days at huwag natin itong lalabagin. Ito po ang paraan para matigil natin ang transmission at talagang tuluyang magapi natin ang pandemic (We ask the public, if you are in close contact or exposed, we need to test. Otherwise, let's self-quarantine for 14 days and not violate it. This is the way for us to stop the transmission and we can really overcome the pandemic),” said Año.

Anti-drug campaign

Año, meanwhile, reported that the 186 drug suspects were arrested while three surrendered in 143 operations conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the past three days.

During these operations, the PNP also confiscated shabu and marijuana worth PHP13 million. (PNA)