18 million families to get cash aid under Philippines' coronavirus stimulus

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2020 03:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 25 2020 03:56 PM

Volunteers distribute goods in Barangay Batis, San Juan City on March 23, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Some 18 million poor Filipino families will receive cash aid for 2 months to help them rebuild their lives from the coronavirus pandemic, based on a stimulus law that President Rodrigo Duterte signed late Tuesday.

The monthly subsidies, ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 per family are part of the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act" which also gave the 74-year-old Duterte special powers to deal with the contagion.

Duterte signed the law over a week into the 1-month long lockdown of Luzon, home to half the Philippines' 100 million people. Under the enhanced community quarantine, people are required to stay at home, businesses are shut except for food, hospitals and medicine and transportation is restricted.

“In view of the continuing rise of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the serious threat to the health, safety, security, and lives of our countrymen, the long-term adverse effects on their means of livelihood, and the severe disruption of economic activities, a state of national emergency is hereby declared over the entire country,” the President said in the law.

The amount of the subsidy, according to the law, should be computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage. Existing subsidies such as rice allowance, and aid received through the government’s conditional cash transfer program should also be taken into consideration.

Local government units have been distributing relief goods since the national government imposed a month-long lockdown to arrest the spread of COVID-19, which has infected 552 people in the country as of Tuesday afternoon.

Under the new measure, LGUs will be authorized to utilize more than 5 percent of the amount allocated for their calamity fund to help their constituents.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Tuesday also said it was allotting P275 billion to help LGUs better respond to the needs of the public.

Prior to the national emergency declaration, Duterte placed the Philippines under a state of public health emergency and a state of calamity to allow the government and LGUs to tap into emergency funds to help Filipinos in light of the pandemic.