President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said the suggestion to include middle-income families in the government’s social amelioration program is justified.
He also said the government does not have enough funds for now.
“Marami ang may gusto, I will discuss it when I reach the point raised by Governor [Jonvic] Remulla of Cavite, which I think is valid. I will try to remedy whatever, kung may mapulot pa tayo sa daan,” Duterte said in a televised speech.
“The economy is not moving, standstill so wala tayong kita. Ang ginagamit natin, ito na ‘yung inireserba natin na pera. Ang ipinagyayabang ko na may pera tayo, P300 billion,” Duterte also said.
Duterte, on the other hand, said the government’s priority is the “poorest of the poor.”
However, he agreed that others are also affected.
“I am reiterating that our most vulnerable citizens, most especially the poorest of the poor, must receive the government’s assistance immediately, kung hindi patay ‘yan sa gutom. Alam ko na we cannot just focus or zero in itong poorest of the poor,” he said.
He also ordered Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to look for more funds for the government’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“The P100 billion for one month, or the P270 billion, for two months yan, nakaprogram na, as earlier estimated, is not enough. I’m calling on the secretary of finance to generate…. Magnakaw ka, maghiram ka, wala akong pakialam, i-produce mo ‘yung pera kasi ‘pag naubos na ito, hindi ko malaman,” Duterte said.
“We are exploring options to adjust our budget. Iyong budget na ‘yung — ‘yung earlier na budget wala pa ‘yung COVID. Sinabi ko bawasan na lang ‘yung iba or totally ilaglag mo na lang ‘yang project na ‘yan, ilagay mo dito kasi ang unahin natin ang tao, ang tiyan. Kasi ‘pag wala nang kinakain, a human being can be violent especially makita niya ‘yung mga anak niya wala ng kain, nag-iiyak siya. Maghingi ng gobyerno tapos wala na akong maibigay at maubos ‘yung bigas natin,” he added.
Remulla earlier appealed to Duterte to include the “middle class” in the government’s social amelioration program.
The social amelioration program is a 2-month emergency subsidy intended for the poorest of the poor affected by the COVID-19.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last Friday released an initial P100 billion to fund the state’s cash aid program.
It will cover the first of 2 months of social amelioration for 18 million households, as called for under the Philippines’ coronavirus response law, Bayanihan to Heal as One. /Stacy Ang