By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III welcomed on Friday the government’s willingness to continue providing emergency subsidy assistance to indigent families in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ).
“That’s good news,” Sotto said following the announcement that President Duterte has directed Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado to look for available funds from the allocations of departments for possible the distribution of subsidies in GCQ areas.
Sotto yesterday, May 14, said the cash aid for informal sector families should continue even if the lockdown rules had been relaxed in most parts of the country.
A principal author of the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act, the Senate leader said the law specifically provides for a two-month subsidy to 18 million low-income households during the COVID-19 national emergency.
Sotto said the Senate would be willing to help the executive department in implementing the social amelioration program.
“We will help in any way although as far as (the) power to realign funds, (that) was already incorporated in [Republic Act No.] 11469,” he said on Friday.
“Perhaps what we would need to do is to extend the validity of the law,” he added.
Citing depleting funds, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the distribution of the P5,000-P8,000 cash assistance would be re-prioritized to areas that remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Low-income households in GCQ areas would no longer receive the second round of the aid, officials said then.
Starting Saturday, May 16, the only areas that will remain under a modified ECQ are Metro Manila, Laguna province and Cebu City, which are considered high-risk for COVID-19 spread.
The rest of the country will be placed under GCQ and modified GCQ.