MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday guaranteed that constituents of a Metro Manila city that President Rodrigo Duterte singled out this week would receive their lockdown cash aid on time.
Duterte, without naming the local government unit he was referring to, said on Monday he would strip its city government of the authority to distribute the cash assistance, following its disorganized COVID-19 vaccination drive.
Residents of this city will still start receiving their cash aid on Aug. 11, the date that Metro Manila mayors agreed on, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"Hindi pupuwede ang ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) nang walang ayuda," he said in a press briefing, referring to the strictest of four quarantine levels.
"Dahil na-ECQ po ang lugar ninyo, magkaka-ayuda po kayo. Huwag po kayong mag-alala," added the official.
(There could be no ECQ without assistance. Because your area is under ECQ, you will receive aid. Do not worry.)
While Duterte did not name anyone, some believe he was referring to Manila, which last week suffered chaos after thousands flocked to vaccination sites.
Some of those who queued wrongly believed that they would be barred from going out or getting cash aid without anti-coronavirus jabs.
The Palace has denied that the inoculation mess could be blamed on Duterte, who on July 28 said barangay officials should bar unvaccinated people from leaving their homes.
"Wala pong pangalan at walang pangalan ng siyudad na nabanggit ang ating Presidente. Bilang tagapagsalita I cannot add doon sa hindi inilabas ng ating Pangulo," said Roque.
(Our President did not mention any name or city. As spokesman, I cannot add to what the President came out with.)
The interior and social welfare departments will lead the distribution of the aid in this city, with the assistance of the police and military, he said.
The funds for the cash aid has been downloaded to local governments in Metro Manila, the budget department said.
Asked how this would affect the distribution, Roque said, "Frankly, hindi ko po alam."
"I leave to the DILG and DSWD dahil sila ang inatasan po, so hindi ko po alam. There must be talks ongoing right now but I’m not privy to the talks," he added.
(I do not know. I leave that to the DILG and DSWD because they were put in charge.)
Metro Manila is under ECQ at least until Aug. 20 to curb the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
The Philippines is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with some 1.6 million infections and around 29,000 deaths.