Palace asks for patience over slow aid distribution

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2021 02:25 PM | Updated as of Apr 19 2021 02:37 PM

Residents in Area 17 in Barangay UP Campus, Quezon City line up in a community pantry facilitated by Tulong Anakpawis serving community-gathered and donated goods consisting of fish, rice, noodles, and vegetables on April 18, 2021, amid the growing number of similar initiatives inspired by the Maginhawa Community Pantry. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Malacañang on Monday asked the public for patience over snags in the government's distribution of aid to help low income earners cope with tightened COVID-19 restrictions. 

Authorities have distributed P4 billion out of the P22.9 billion budget for aid distribution, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

Unlike pre-pandemic aid distributions, beneficiaries now have to observe physical distancing and cannot flock to a venue all at once to get the assistance, he said in a press briefing. 

"Humihingi po tayo ng paumanhin dahil talagang medyo may kabagalan," Roque said. 

"Pero sa panahon po kasi ng pandemya, hindi natin maiiwasan na talagang mag-ingat dahil baka mamaya mabigay nga iyong ayuda, magkaroon naman ng COVID ang mga taongbayan." 

(We ask for patience because there really is a delay. But in the time of a pandemic, we cannot avoid being careful because we may be able to distribute they aid, but the public could also get COVID-19.)

Each beneficiary is entitled to P1,000 aid in cash or in kind. Up to 4 members of a family could be eligible for the assistance. 

A total of 22.9 million people are set to receive the aid in Metro Manila and surrounding Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces, which were under the toughest lockdown level for 2 weeks. The area has shifted to the third strictest quarantine status. 

Asked why authorities did not use electronic means to speed up the aid distribution, Roque said, "Ang iniiwasan ata, iyong service fee." 

"Ayaw na nating mabawasan iyong makukuha ng taongbayan dahil alam natin na hindi naman masyadong malaki iyong P1,000 at P4,000 per family," he said. 

(What we are avoiding is the service fee. We don't want to reduce what will be given to the public because P1,000 and P4,00 for a family are not that big.) 

The Philippines has tallied 936,133 coronavirus infections, 141,089 of which were active as of Sunday. 

Video courtesy of PTV