MANILA - A downpour Wednesday night forced hundreds of residents of Mandaluyong's biggest village to wait for hours in line to get cash aid from government before the city began a week-long total lockdown on Thursday to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The strict quarantine measure on Addition Hills' Welfareville Compound would last until May 14, with residents relying on the cash assistance to buy essentials like food to last the period.
At past midnight, the line of residents at the Addition Hills Integrated School waiting to claim their financial aid still reached into the hundreds and spanned two floors.
Many said they had been waiting there since late afternoon Wednesday.
Jane Militante, the COVID-19 point person from the city's social welfare department, said a downpour Wednesday night halted the distribution as both the recipients and city workers moved to find dry spaces.
"Hindi namin na-expect na uulan kasi. So pinahupa namin ang ulan and siyempre 'yung safety ng mga tao, then after noon, gumawa kami ng paraan kung paano itutuloy ang pagbigay ng assistance sa kanila," she said.
Local volunteers tried to enforce social distancing in the lines.
The recipients first went through a table of validators where they signed their names before moving to another table to get the envelopes containing P8,000.
The claiming of cash lasted until 3 a.m. Around 5,000 people received the cash that day, or some 15,000 since Monday.
Senior citizens and persons with disability were the first to be accommodated in the lines.
But many only returned home as the lockdown had taken effect, like sisters Zeny Javier and Ducia Marcelino--both senior citizens--who had to walk home after their ride went home during the rain.
"Pumila kami ng 7:30, ngayon lang kami lumabas," Javier said.
"Sabi namin maglakad na lang kaming dalawa. Wala rin kasi akong dalang cellphone, although gusto naming tawagan. Siguro po'y baka nakatulog. Baka kami'y abutin ng kalahating oras."
They said they are hoping to be provided for during the lockdown.
"For the sake na kailangang matapos 'yang virus na 'yan, kailangan po talagang gawin natin iyon. Kahit walang ulam, basta may bigas important yun."
However, 38-year-old driver Ronald Baco while thankful for the assistance, said he might not be able to buy food since shops had already closed.
"Dapat hapon pa sana pang-grocery, kaya lang hindi na umabot. E hintay na lang kami ng pupunta sa amin, 'yun na lang ang aasahan dahil hindi kami makabili. Mahirap po kasi medyo mahaba 'yung pila, pero nauunawaan naman namin kasi maraming tao sa Addition Hills," he said.
But Militante said residents under the lockdown would be allowed a day to buy essentials.
"Ang mangyayari, isang araw na lang ang kanila ng paglabas para makabili, at least meron silang magagamit o panggastos sa kanilang pang-araw-araw," she said.
Militante added that aside from the cash, both the city government and Addition Hills have been distributing relief goods and vegetables to houses before the lockdown, with the city on its 3rd round of distribution.
Residents like 56-year-old Alfredo Gomez, who did not qualify for the social amelioration program, will be relying on the relief to get through the week.
"Dito lang kami sa loob, maghihintay hanggang kailan matapos ang lockdown na ito. Kanina naghanda kami ng para makasuporta sa isang linggo--mga de late, noodles, bigas, kaunting isda," he said.
Under the total lockdown, only essential workers, frontline personnel, and government employees would be allowed to leave and enter the community.
Around 3, 000 Welfareville residents will undergo random mass rapid diagnostic testing during the lockdown.
Militante said this could begin on Friday or Saturday.
Addition Hills has one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mandaluyong City and had earlier been placed on heightened community quarantine.
As of Wednesday, 58 people in Addition Hills have the disease.