Gov’t to distribute ECQ financial aid; implementation to be bared on March 29

Published March 27, 2021, 8:58 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is planning to distribute financial aid to persons who may be severely affected by the latest strict lockdown in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque however could not yet disclose the amount of “assistance” to be given in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), saying details of the program was still being finalized.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal will return to most restrictive ECQ from March 29 to April 4 as a “drastic” move to curb the rapid spike of the coronavirus cases in the country.  The restrictions included strict home quarantine except for essential work and accessing food and services, ban on mass gatherings, limited capacity operations of businesses except for hospitals, frontline services, among others, during the Holy Week. 

These five areas, collectively known as NCR plus, are currently under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ).

“Dahil naiintindihan ni Presidente na habang tayo ay naka-ECQ eh walang pupwedeng magtrabaho, magkakaroon tayo ng tulong na ipamimigay sa ating mga kababayan (Because the President understand that we cannot work while we are on ECQ, we will distribute assistance to our people),” Roque said during a televised press conference Saturday, March 27.

“Isinasapinal na po ang pagbibigay ng assistance (The distribution of the assistance will be finalized),” he said.

Roque said the economic team has committed to announce the funding source for the assistance program for ECQ areas by Monday.  The amount of assistance and how it will be distributed will also be readied.

Roque said those who lost their jobs during the ECQ period will be among those to be given aid. He admitted though that the forthcoming assistance might be lower compared to the aid given during last year’s lockdown. “Dahil alam naman natin na kapag nag-lockdown, nag-ECQ, eh hindi lang iyong mga 4Ps beneficiaries ang nahihirapan. So kaya nga po iyan iyong iaanunsiyo natin sa Lunes. Siguro po ang halaga ay mas maliit sa inaasahan pero ang makakatanggap ay mas marami po (Because we know when a lockdown or ECQ is declared, the 4Ps beneficiaries are not the only ones suffering. We will announce it on Monday. Maybe the assistance will be smaller but more people can benefit),” he said.

He said Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado was expected to submit his recommendation on the funding requirements to President Duterte.

When ECQ was first imposed last year, the government set aside a P200-billion emergency subsidy program for 18 million low-income households for the months of April and May.  The subsidy program, included in Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, was completed last August.

Under Bayanihan 2 law, the government distributed financial aid to poor beneficiaries living in places under granular lockdown, those who have not received social amelioration program, families of displaced overseas Filipino workers, and those who were unable to receive the first round of SAP.