Duterte eyes selling govt. properties if funds vs. COVID-19 not enough

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte has discussed the possibility of selling the properties of the government if funds to combat the coronavirus disease are not enough.

“What is the end game? ’Pag maubos talaga ang pera, ipagbili ko lahat ng [properties] ng gobyerno. Iyang Cultural Center [of the Philippines], PICC, yung lupa diyan,” Duterte said in a briefing aired in the wee hours of Thursday. 

[Translation: If our funds run out, I will sell the properties of the government. That Cultural Center, PICC, the land there.]

‘Pag wala na akong makuha (If I cannot get a fund source) and we are about to sink and really sink, I will sell all the assets of the government and itulong ko lahat sa tao (to provide for the people),’ he added.

But for now, while the Philippines is being financially hit by the health crisis, Duterte said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III assured him the country economy "could stay afloat."

The president asked Congress for special powers in March. He said he needed the authority to reallocate funds in the 2020 national budget so that government can respond accordingly to the public health emergency.

The government plans to spend up to ₱600 billion for its COVID-19 response, but more than half of the amount will come from new loans, the Department of Finance said Tuesday.

So far, the government has disclosed about ₱290 billion in programs and projects lined up to soften the impact of the COVID-19 devastation on the economy.

TIMELINE: The COVID-19 response money trail

Duterte had earlier approved the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of the Emerging Infectious Diseases to restrict the movement of people, ordering most except for those rendering vital services to stay at home.

The lockdown is intended to stem the spread of COVID-19. It was originally scheduled to last until April 12, but was exendeduntil 11:59 p.m. of April 30.