By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has called for a ceasefire to politicking as the country combats the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has appealed to the opposition, communist rebels, and enemies of the state to support collective efforts against the pandemic instead of fighting the government.
“Nakikiusap kami sa mga NPA (New People’s Army), lahat ng oposisyon, lahat ng kalaban ng gobyerno, isantabi niyo muna po ang politika ngayon, meron tayong krisis na umiiral sa ating bayan),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
(We appeal to the NPA, all the opposition, all the enemies of the government, set aside politics now, our country is facing a crisis.)
Roque said the enemies of the state may resume fighting the government once the coronavirus emergency is over.
“Matapos ang krisis na ito, bakbakan ulit kung gusto ninyo. Pero sa ngayon po, hayaan muna natin na makarating ang tulong ng gobyerno sa lahat ng mga nangangailangan ng tulong,” he said.
(When this crisis is over, let’s fight again if you want. But for now, let the government’s assistance reach everyone who needs help.)
Roque noted that the government personnel are having difficulty validating the lists of beneficiaries of social protection programs in areas infested by communist rebels.
“May ilang areas na kontrolado ng NPA, hindi pinapapasok ‘yung mga taong gobyerno. Paano naman natin mave-verify ‘yung mga pangalan ng mga nakatira doon sa areas kung saan nandoon yung mga NPA?”
(Government personnel have been prevented from entering areas controlled by the NPA. How can we verify the names of people living in these areas where there are NPAs?)
The government has implemented various measures, including strict home quarantine for residents in Luzon and other areas, to curb the spread of the coronavirus and mitigate its impact on the people.
A Luzon-wide lockdown has been extended until April 30 to give the government more time to enhance healthcare efforts to test, isolate, and treat coronavirus patients. The government has repeatedly appealed for public cooperation in observing home quarantine, social distancing, and other health precautions to avoid getting infected.
A P200-billion emergency subsidy program has also been launched to help 18 million Filipino families cope with life under the lockdown. Around P65 billion has so far been released to 1,228 local government units to distribute as cash aid to low-income beneficiaries.
In an earlier virtual press briefing, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said, “A total of 236,331 low-income, non-4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) families received their emergency cash assistance equivalent to P1.3 billion.”
The implementation of the program however has been marred by initial delays due to concerns about the list of beneficiaries. President Duterte earlier admittedly that the government could have hasted the aid distribution if the national identification system is fully implemented. He has blamed the leftist groups for allegedly blocking the implementation of the program.
The government also recently announced a P50.8 billion wage subsidy program to benefit workers in small businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown.