Duterte rejects claims gov't isn't helping the poor: 'We're distributing billions'

Published May 18, 2021, 12:46 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has distributed “billions” of assistance to the poor to help them cope with the pandemic, President Duterte said in rejecting criticisms the government was doing nothing to provide aid during the pandemic.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

In a televised address Monday, the President defended the government has been helping Filipinos especially the poor families since the first strict lockdown was imposed last year.

Duterte was referring to the social amelioration program where 18 million poor families living in areas under strict lockdown were given cash subsidies to alleviate their hardship during the pandemic. Authorities are also almost done with the distribution of P1,000 worth of aid in cash or in-kind to poor beneficiaries in the Nation Capital Region Plus which was placed under enhanced community quarantine imposed last March.

“Marami nagsasabi, ‘Kami lang ang namimigay, kayo wala.’ Really? Nakita n’yo ‘yong statistics, binigay ni (Interior and Local Government) Secretary Año? (Many said, ‘We’re the ones giving aid, you don’t give anything.’ Really? You’ve seen the statistics given by Secretary Año). We are distributing billions,” the President said during a taped public address aired on government television Tuesday, May 18.

“Nauna pa kami noon (We were the first to give aid before), and we are giving money. ‘Yon lang ang pinaka (That’s the) most expeditious way of doing it,” he added.

In a report to the President, Año said the government has so far distributed P21.18 billion in financial aid out of the P22.9 billion set aside for poor beneficiaries in Metro Manila and four nearby provinces earlier placed under ECQ. The distribution rate of the ECQ “ayuda” has reached 92.45 percent so far, he said.

In Metro Manila, Año said 10.2 million Metro Manila residents have received their financial aid worth P10.2 billion, or 91.75 percent of the P11.1 billion allocated aid.

Those who received ayuda are 2.8 million people in Bulacan (96.89 percent), 2.9 million people in Cavite (85.82 percent), 2.6 million in Laguna (96.89 percent), and 2.4 million in Rizal (94.54 percent).

Last March, the President approved the PP22.9-billion supplemental amelioration program to help millions of poor Filipinos to cope with the ECQ declared in NCR Plus. Local government units were given “leeway” to decide on whether to give assistance in cash or in-kind to their qualified constituents.