By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday scored its detractors for coming up with misinformation pertaining to the agency’s supposed neglect in handing out aid to certain members of the society.
DILG undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya has strongly condemned “the attempt by certain sectors to misrepresent, misquote, or otherwise place out of context the statements of Secretary Eduardo M. Año and myself about the government’s assistance to the people during this time of national calamity’’.
He insisted the DILG never said that the residents of private subdivisions are in no need of government help.
“We also never said “Those who live in subdivisions do not deserve government help,” or words to that effect,’’ Malaya said.
“What Secretary Año said in his press conference in Malacanang and I said in the DILG show Kuwentuhang Lokal on DZMM Teleradyo is that residents of private subdivisions and gated communities who are well-off should not expect food packs or relief goods from the local government units because those are for poor and indigent families who are mostly daily wage earners, no work no pay, and are in dire need of government assistance,’’ he added.
Stressing his point, Malaya said the government has to prioritize the poorest among the poor in handing out food packs since the country has limited resources.
“Thus, we have to prioritize. The facts speak for themselves: Some 18 million households (or 73 percent of all households in the country) are poor or low-income in the informal sector and are typically under the ‘no-work, no-pay scheme,’ have no SSS, and have negligible or no savings. The food packs currently being distributed by the LGUs are meant for them to be able to survive this crisis,’’ Malaya maintained .
Malaya lamented the DILG “never said that we will not assist the rest of the households or those living in subdivisions’’.
“We never said that only the poor will be assisted. Of course the government will assist them. That is why Congress passed RA 11469 or the ‘Bayanihan to Heal As One Act’ so that everyone is helped because COVID-19 affects us all,’’ Malaya exclaimed.
Malaya explained that those in the formal economy, which is some 6.6 million households all over the country, will receive other forms of government assistance during this crisis but not the food packs.
“These types of assistance include the following: credit facilities and reduced lending rates; reprieve in the payment of national and local taxes, fees and other charges required by law to ease the burden of families and individuals; 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans (including salary, personal, housing, and motor vehicle loans) including credit card payments without incurring penalties, fees and charges; and a 30-day grace period in the payment of residential rent, without incurring interests, penalties and fees,’’ he said.
In addition, Malaya DOLE’s COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will provide cash subsidy to workers in the formal economy who are affected by the crisis, while the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers) program, will provide temporary employment for displaced workers. .
The DILG also appealed to private sector employers “to assist their employees in this time of hardship and many have responded positively.’’
Malaya said this does not include special programs by LGUs and other National Government Agencies that are implemented by them separately, like discounts in the payment of Real Property Taxes and other local taxes and fees.
“Again, we appeal to all sectors not to take out of the context the statements made by this Department. As frontliners in the war against COVID-19 responding to irresponsible and malicious statements take time, effort, and energy from what could have been utilized for more productive pursuits to defeat our common enemy,’’ Malaya concluded.