MANILA—Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate on Friday expressed disappointment over the inadequate and inefficient distribution of lockdown aid, which has left thousands of residents in Metro Manila and 4 neighboring provinces waiting in line for hours.
"Parang (it seem like) it's a déjà vu. As if we did not learn the lessons that we had last year in the distribution of the SAP (social amelioration program)," Zarate told ANC.
Distribution of pandemic assistance for nearly 23 million people affected by the reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine in the NCR Plus region began this week. But the slow pace of distribution left residents queuing until past midnight, with some proposing the assistance should have been given directly to households.
Zarate said the so-called ECQ assistance, worth P1,000 per person but not more than P4,000 per low-income family, was not enough to deal with the 2-week lockdown.
"We have been proposing that at least per family should have been given P10,000 assistance coming from the government. This P1,000 is very low than what they received during the lockdown last year," he said.
Last year, the government provided financial assistance to 18 million families through SAP, which is mandated by Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act. The emergency subsidy ranged between P5,000 and P8,000.
Zarate said he and other lawmakers had been calling for a third economic stimulus package to revive the pandemic-battered economy.
The government can acquire the funds from dividends of government-owned and controlled corporations and realign the 2021 national budget to deal with the crisis, he said.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal have been under ECQ since March 29 to curb the movement of people as part of efforts to stem fresh coronavirus infections. The measure has been extended until April 11.