By Chito Chavez
Hundreds of urban poor residents in Quezon City on Sunday cried that extending the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will extend their ordeal and render them “poorer.”
A haggard Peter Lateral, a resident of Barangay Botocan in Quezon City, said the ECQ has been a great financial burden for poor families like his, and that a lockdown extension will bring them more suffering.
Lateral said that his family cannot survive the ECQ any longer as the assistance given by the government is insufficient.
“Sa pagiging parking boy, kumikita ako ng humigit-kumulang ng P300 per day. Kulang pa nga ito para sa tatlo kung anak. Pero kahit paano nabubuhay kami.
“Pero ngayon, hirap kami sobra. Mahigit two weeks na kaming naghihintay ng limos sa gobyerno, na bukod sa hindi sapat ay madalang pa sa patak ng ulan kung pamahagi,” Lateral said.
(I earn around P300 a day as a parking attendant. This is not enough for the needs of my three children, but at least we were surviving. But now we’re having a really hard time. For more than two weeks now, we’ve been waiting for the government doleout, which aside from being insufficient is not distributed regularly.)
Compared to COVID-19, Lateral said he was more afraid of seeing his children go hungry because of the government’s lack of support.
“Kahit pasimple, ako na ang bumibili ng mga pangangailangan ng ibang tao sa palengke o grocery para may makain kaming apat ng isang beses kada araw,” he said.
(I discreetly run errands for other people to provide a single meal for the four of us).
Regarding the P8,000 financial assistance offered by the government, Laperal hopes that all the barangay officials in the city’s depressed areas provide what is due them.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said all barangay officials in the ECQ-affected areas should not discriminate, but instead extend government aid to the poor, unemployed, and informal sector members in their respective areas regardless of political affiliation, religious beliefs, and sexual preference.
Mayor Joy Belmonte warned that appropriate sanctions will be imposed on rogue barangay officials and city hall personnel who fail to deliver food packs to the proper recipients.
Lateral added that he understood the reasons for government’s call to extend the lockdown, but insisted that they should take care of the people’s needs sufficiently.
Numerous residents from the neighboring barangays of Libis, Loyola Heights, and Barangay Quirino 2-C echoed Lateral’s sentiment and begged the government to provide them with ample assistance.
“Hindi kami nanghihingi ng sobra, kundi yung sapat lang,’’ said a tricycle driver who refused to give his name. (We are not asking for too much, only what’s enough.)
Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday supported calls to extend the ECQ for another 15 to 20 days.
In an interview with ANC, Robredo said the proposed lockdown extension would help “flatten the curve,” the term used by medical experts to describe the containment of the spread of the coronavirus.
However, Robredo said the government should be able to sufficiently provide for the needs of the poor during the lockdown period.