Senator Sonny Angara has called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to work closely with the local government units (LGUs) in providing assistance to the families severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
While the move was welcomed by many as an effective way to contain the disease from spreading to more communities across the country, it has also caused a lot of anxiety to workers who are paid by the day and as such have no income to support their families during the quarantine period.
The enhanced community quarantine was enforced at midnight last Tuesday, covering the entire Luzon region, effectively shutting down work in all offices except those providing essential services, suspending the operations of mass transport systems, and prohibiting the unnecessary movement of civilians.
“Let us not wait for people to get desperate and start behaving irrationally. Exert all efforts to reach out to them and provide them with their basic requirements right away,” Angara said.
“We have to be proactive and not wait for the situation to escalate before acting. The President said we have the funds to cope with COVID-19, the people need to see this is true and it will be difficult for them to believe if they already have no food to eat,” he added.
Apart from the calamity funds at the disposal of the LGUs, the DSWD has P1.25 billion under its quick response fund (QRF) and P8.7 billion for the protective services program (PSP) in the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
He said the funds could be tapped to provide financial and food assistance to the individuals and families affected by the community quarantine.
The QRF is a stand-by fund for relief and recovery programs intended to normalize the situation and living conditions of communities or areas stricken by disasters, calamities, epidemics or complex emergencies as quickly as possible.
Under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the DSWD also received a similar amount of QRF, out of which P915 million was unutilized as of end-November.
The PSP, on the other hand is being used by the DSWD for the provision of cash assistance to individuals and families in crisis situations.
In the past, the cash assistance from the PSP was provided for transportation and medical aid, burial, education and food assistance, stipend to indigent senior citizens not covered by social pension systems, cash/food for work and food packs, among others.
Angara said the cash assistance could also be used to purchase “COVID-19 essentials” such as alcohol, soap and face masks.
“We are urging the Department of Budget and Management to facilitate the release of the funds to the DSWD, LGUs and other agencies so that they could respond quickly at this time when our many of our people badly need our help,” Angara said./Stacy Ang