Duterte orders DBM to source funds for NCR ECQ 'ayuda'

President Duterte has ordered the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to find a source for the cash aid or ayuda for residents who will be affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that will be imposed on Metro Manila next month, Malacañang said.

(Parañaque City - Public Information Office/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Duterter approved placing the National Capital Region (NCR) under ECQ from August 6 to 20, 2021 due to the spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

In a text message, Roque said the ball is now in the court of the DBM.

"PRRD directed DBM to source funds," he said Friday, July 30.

Roque, in a later interview with Super Radyo DZBB, said Metro Manila residents can expect the same amount of cash aid given to them when the region shifted to ECQ early this year. Last time, residents affected by the strict lockdown received P1,000 or a maximum of P4,000 per family.

"Hhinihingi ko na lang po ay kumpirmasyon pero nakausap ko na si DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado (I'm just waiting for confirmation but I already talked to Secretary Avisado)," he said.

"Sabi niya sa akin hahanapin at hahanapin natin 'yan dahil ang Presidente hindi pumapayag mag-ECQ nang walang ayuda sa mga mamamayan (He told me that we will really look for a source for the cash aid because the President will not agree to an ECQ without cash aid for the residents)," he added.

Before its scheduled shift to ECQ, Metro Manila will first be subjected to general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened and additional restrictions from July 30 to August 5.

Metro Manila mayors and some members of the business sectors had urged the government to place the region under ECQ as a precautionary measure against the dreaded Delta variant as long as there would be cash aid or ayuda for the residents.

According to Roque, the government did not have enough funds for further ayuda but said it will look for ways to fund another round of the amelioration program if declaring ECQ was inevitable.

"Complete closure of the economy, mawawalan ng trabaho, and ang katotohanan po hindi ko po alam kung meron tayong pang-ayuda para sa another malawakang lockdown (people are bound to lose jobs and the reality is I don’t know if we have enough funds for cash aid for another extensive lockdown)," he said.

"Kung talagang kinakailangan, hahanap at hahanap tayo. Pero sang-ayon naman po sa ating criteria na wala pa po tayo sa moderate risk (If it is necessary to declare ECQ, we will look for the funds. But based on our criteria, we are not even at moderate risk yet)," he added.

Meanwhile, Roque has assured residents of Iloilo City, Iloilo Province, Cagayan de Oro City, and Gingoog City that they will be given cash aid worth P1,000 or up to P4,000 per family while they are under ECQ.

As of July 29, the country has recorded 216 cases of the more contagious Delta variant. So far, the Philippines has reported 1,562,420 COVID-19 cases with 1,478,265 recoveries and 27,318 deaths.