Duterte assures ₱200-billion aid for the 'most affected' in COVID-19 crisis

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — The national government has allotted a total of ₱200-billion-worth of aid for low-income households, farmers, and fisherfolk, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

In his televised public address late Monday night, more than seven hours past the 4pm tentative schedule, Duterte said that the fund will go to low-income households who are most affected by this crisis in the country.

“We have allotted ₱200 billion for low income households who are badly affected by this crisis. Beneficiary households will receive emergency support for their two months based on the regional minimum wage,” he said in his address to the nation Monday midnight.

Duterte also urged the private sector to continue to “look after” their countrymen, and to help in any way that they can.

Duterte also said that government is providing assistance to the agricultural sector.

“To our farmers and fisherfolk, we have not forgotten you, and government is now employing quick response measures to help you during the crisis as well as ensure food productivity, sufficiency,” Duterte added.

In line with this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is set to distribute social amelioration cards for cash assistance amid the pandemic.

RELATED: DSWD to distribute cards to LGUs for distribution of COVID-19 cash aid

The cash aid ranges between ₱5,000 and ₱8,000, and will be given to vulnerable sectors of society such as persons with disabilities, senior citizens, pregnant mothers, homeless persons and workers in informal sectors.

Duterte added that this cash assistance program is the “largest and widest social protection program in the country’s history.”

However, the DSWD is still coordinating with local governments regarding the schedule of submission of the list of beneficiaries for the distribution of the cash aid.

The Health Department has also purchased one million set of personal protective equipment worth ₱1.8 billion to be given to health workers in referral hospitals for coronavirus patients in Luzon.

Duterte was quick to thank healthcare workers and frontliners, even addressing the medical practitioners who have fallen to the respiratory disease, saying they are “lucky” to have died for the country.

“May mga doctors, nurses, attendants na namatay. Sila ‘yong nasawi ang buhay para lang makatulong sa kapwa. Napaka swerte nila, namatay sila para sa bayan. ‘yon dapat ang rason para dapat tayo namatay,” he said.

[Translation: There are doctors, nurses, and attendants who died. They died helping other people. They are very lucky that they died for the country. That should be the reason of our death.]

Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act on March 24, which grants him additional powers to tackle the COVID-19 crisis in the country, including the power to reshuffle funds in this year’s budget to provide assistance to the poor.

Under this law, Duterte should deliver a weekly report to Congress every Monday, where he would detail what the government has done in the past week to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.