MANILA — Several members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday told the national government not to scrimp on "ayuda" or cash aid to be given to poor Filipinos to be directly hit during the 2-week lockdown in Metro Manila to contain the COVID-19 Delta variant.
According to Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, it was unbelievable that the government was only able to pool P13.1 billion as savings from the 2020 budget, now realigned to fund the lockdown ayuda.
"We believe the government can fund a bigger ayuda program for ECQ-hit residents," said Brosas.
The government has approved aid of P1,000 each for 1 million residents in need in areas under the strictest COVID-19 lockdown, Malacañang said last Thursday. Up to 4 members of a family can get the P1,000 in aid per person.
House Deputy Minority leader Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said that the P1,000 cash aid was a pittance.
"It is not even commensurate to 2 days of daily minimum wage in NCR. And is definitely below the P 1,058 daily family living wage for a family of five. Even if the government gives P4,000 per family it is far from enough," said the Davao-based solon, citing iPrice data.
Zarate said it was ironic that the government has allotted funds for the controversial dolomite beach project in Manila but couldn't give more for cash aid.
"'Wag naman sanang baratin ang mamamayan! Kapag dolomite o kampanya sa eleksyon may sako-sakong pera pero sa ayuda para sa mga Pilipino, tinitipid," he said.
The Bayan Muna solon then urged President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the Bayanihan 3 bill, which is now pending before the Senate.
Duterte placed Metro Manila under ECQ starting Friday, Aug. 6 until Aug. 20 to prevent the highly transmissible Delta variant from spreading.
The imposition of an ECQ may result in an increase in the number of poor people by up to 177,000 and the unemployed by 444,000, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua earlier said in a statement.
—With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News