By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite the release of calamity funds and quick response funds (QRF) to local government units (LGUs) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so they can immediately provide for the needs of quarantined families.
Angara made the call as the government enforced an enhanced community quarantine over the whole of Luzon starting midnight on Tuesday, as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The move effectively shut down work in all offices except those providing essential services, suspended the operations of mass transport systems, and prohibited the unnecessary movement of civilians.
“We are urging the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to facilitate the release of the funds to the DSWD, LGUs, and other agencies so that they could respond quickly at this time, when many of our people badly need our help,” Angara said.
Angara said the funds could be tapped to provide financial and food assistance to the individuals and families affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
Aside from the calamity funds at the disposal of the LGUs, the DSWD has P1.25-billion under its quick response fund (QRF). There is also an P8.7-billion for the protective services program (PSP) in the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The QRF is a standby fund for relief and recovery programs meant to normalize the situation and living conditions of areas experiencing or recovering from disasters, calamities, epidemics, or complex emergencies as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, the PSP is used by the DSWD to provide for cash assistance to individuals and families in crisis situations.
Angara noted that in the past, the cash assistance from PSP was provided for transportation and medical aid, burial, education and food assistance, stipends to indigent senior citizens not covered by social pension systems, cash/food for work, and food packs.
At the same time, the senator said the cash assistance can be used to purchase essentials such as alcohol, soap, and face masks.
“We have to be proactive and not wait for the situation to escalate before acting,” Angara said.
“As the President said, we have the funds to cope with COVID-19, the people need not see this is true and it will be difficult for them to believe if they have nothing to eat,” the lawmaker pointed out.
Angara said that while an enhanced community quarantine is needed and welcomed by many as an effective way to contain the disease, it has also caused a lot of anxiety to daily wage earners and those who have no income to support their families during the quarantine period.
“Let us not wait for people to get desperate and start behaving irrationally. Exert all efforts to reach out to them and provide them with their basic requirements right away,” he appealed.
READ MORE: Entire Luzon under quarantine