MANILA — Quezon City on Thursday asked for more time to distribute the national government's lockdown assistance, given the area's large population and difficulties in enforcing protocols meant to arrest a surge in COVID-19 infections.
The country's most populous city received the most funds for the assistance scheme at P2.48 billion, which would be enough to give P1,000 in aid to nearly 2.5 million residents, said Mayor Joy Belmonte.
She estimated the funds would “cover all of the families that are belonging in the low income bracket here in our city.”
However, Belmonte said authorities struggled to control crowds that flocked to the aid distribution in several barangays, wrongly thinking that the assistance would be given in a first come, first serve basis.
“Ang nagiging problema natin dito, ay paano tayo magmi-maintain nang maayos na social distancing at paano natin mami-maintain ang minimum health standards kung minamadali naman tayong tapusin itong pagbibigay ayuda sa loob ng 15 days, na hindi iniisip na ang size at ang scope at ang laki ng lungsod ay iba doon sa ibang lungsod,” said Belmonte.
(Our problem here is how can we maintain proper social distancing and minimum social distancing if we are rushed to finish the aid distribution within 15 days, without thinking of that the city's scope and size are different compared to other cities.)
Quezon City is home to about 2.9 million people, 2015 government data showed. Belmonte said her constituents account for about a quarter of Metro Manila's 12 million people.
“Sana i-consider ito ng national government. Iyan lang po ang aking apela… Ayokong maging superspreader event ang pagbibigay ng ating ayuda,” said the mayor.
(I hope the national government considers this. That's my only appeal. I do not want our aid distribution to turn into a super spreader event.)
The capital region and surrounding Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces are under the toughest quarantine level at least until April 11 to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.
The area's enhanced community quarantine bans mass gatherings and non-essential movement, and allows only select businesses to operate at full on-site capacity.
A recent surge of infections have raised the country's total COVID-19 cases to 819,164, of which 158,701 remained active as of Wednesday.
Video courtesy of PTV