By Genalyn Kabiling
The government economic team is expected to explore a possible assistance program for middle-income families as ordered by President Duterte, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nograles said, however, that the program seeking to help middle class households does not necessarily have to be a social amelioration package.
“Inatasan ni Pangulo ang isang grupo (The President has directed a group) made up primarily of our economic managers to study this proposal,” he said during a virtual press conference Tuesday.
Nograles pointed out that there are “other ways where in we can help the middle class and not in the same (way) as the (current) social amelioration (package).”
At present, Nograles said the government has prioritized giving aid to the “poorest of the poor,” and other marginalized sectors. He admitted that the middle class families are not covered by the present social amelioration program.
Cavite Governor Juanito Victor Remulla recently sent a letter to President Duterte seeking to include the middle class families in the government’s social amelioration program for households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Remulla urged the President to consider the welfare of the middle class, saying they are “often overlooked” even though they pay the most taxes and are law-abiding citizens.
The President, in his public address Monday night, said he agreed with Remulla’s sentiment about the middle class.
“He is appealing to include the middle class in their constituency because kailangan rin nila (they need it too). I agree. I know the political economic horizon of the country,” he said.
Duterte, however, admitted the country has limited funds at the moment, saying the P270 billion allocation for the COVID response is “not enough.” He has asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to look for additional funds to boost the government’s resources.