MANILA - The labor department said Thursday it lacked funds to give cash aid to some 1 million workers who suffered income loss during the nearly month-long lockdown of Luzon to halt the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 1.5 million workers sought the P5,000 aid from the agency, which would shell out around P2 billion for about 435,000 whose applications were approved, said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.
The remaining 1 million workers with still-pending applications will be assisted instead by the finance department, which might give a bigger aid of P8,000, he said.
The government "is doing everything it can" to help the workers, he said.
"Nararamdaman ko rin ang impatience ng ating mga kababayan. Alam din nating gutom sila kaya hindi natin masisisi sila 'pag nagrereklamo sila," Bello told DZMM.
(I also feel the impatience of our compatriots. We know that they are going hungry so we can't blame them if they complain.)
"They deserve it (assistance). Obligasyon naming ibigay sa kanila iyan. Kaya lang, mas kaunting pasensya lang po, ipararating namin iyan," he added.
(They deserve assistance, and it is our obligation to give them that. However, we ask for a little more patience, we will give them aid.)
Luzon, home to around half of the Philippines' 100 million people, is on lockdown until April 30.
The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 5,453 cases of COVID-19, with 349 deaths and 353 patients who recovered.