Cash aid distribution to 18 million households amid quarantine 'a challenge,' says House leader

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30) — The national and local government would need to intensify collaboration to speed up cash aid distribution awaiting some 18 million low-income households under the enhanced community quarantine, a House leader bared Monday.

"Ang pinaka-challenge talaga ngayon, madistribute sa lalong madaling panahon (The real challenge now is to how distribute the aid as soon as possible)," House Deputy Speaker Luis Ray Villafuerte said Monday at the "Laging Handa" briefing.

"May budget for two months. Malapit nang matapos yung one month na enhanced community quarantine so dapat this week, next week, matapos na yan sa buong Pilipinas," Villafuerte noted. "Again yung challenge is kung paano madidistribute sa 18 million households."

[Translation: The budget is intended for two months. The first month of the enhanced community quarantine is almost over so this week, next week, it should be done across the country. Again, the challenge is how this can be distributed to 18 million households.]

Villafuerte added they really have to tap local government units to ensure that the emergency subsidy worth ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 for each family for up to two months will reach all the intended beneficiaries.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano proposed Sunday a "house-to-house" strategy, a no-contact policy, and the use of photo documentation in distributing the relief to beneficiaries while minimizing the risk of contamination.

It has been a week since President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, giving him special powers to address the coronavirus outbreak in the county. However, Congress has yet to receive a report from him on the acts that were performed under the new law.

"So far, wala pa (none yet). We are waiting for it. I'm sure they will submit today, Monday. But we're waiting for it. As soon as we get it, Congress, of course, will review and I'm sure the media will get a copy," Villafuerte said.

Under Section 5 of the measure, the President should submit a weekly report every Monday to Congress on all acts performed "pursuant to the Act during the immediately preceding week."

The report must include the amount and corresponding utilization of funds used, augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated and realigned, the measure said.

A joint congressional oversight committee, composed of four members of each chamber and appointed by the House Speaker and the Senate President, will be in charge of determining whether these acts, orders, rules and regulations imposed by the President are within the restrictions provided in the measure, it added.

On Sunday, the Philippines recorded 345 additional COVID-19 cases, the largest single-day surge since the outbreak began, bringing the new total to 1,418 in the country. There are a total of 71 deaths and 42 recoveries from the infection so far.