DBM releases P10.9-B for cash aid in Metro Manila

Metro Manila and nearby provinces is under enhanced community quarantine until Aug. 20 to curb a Delta-drive spike in coronavirus cases. — Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine Star

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Friday released P10.894 billion in funds for financial aid to be given to nearly 11 million residents in Metro Manila, which is under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until Aug. 20.

Funds for the financial aid were sourced from the savings of the 2020 budget, DBM said in a statement.

“Affected low-income individuals and families are expected to receive P1,000 per person and a maximum of P4,000 per household, to ensure that food and other non-food requirements are met despite the imposed lockdown,” the department said.

The cash aid is meant for the bottom 80% of the population in Metro Manila, based on the population projection and available data of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The Bureau of the Treasury will be in charge of releasing the cash aid through the authorized government servicing banks of the 17 local government units of the National Capital Region. Meanwhile, distribution of the funds will be monitored by the Department of Interior and Local Government as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Based on Local Budget Circular 138, Quezon City will have the largest allocation of P2.372 billion, followed by Manila (P1.488 billion), and Caloocan (P1.342 billion).

Allocations for the other LGUs are as follows: Taguig (P723.971 million); Pasig (P650.886 million); Valenzuela (P589.309 million); Paranaque (P556.15 million); Makati (P511.984 million); Las Pinas (P488.015 million); Muntinlupa (P441.609 million); Marikina (P365.749 million); Pasay (P356.727 million); Mandaluyong (P347.652 million); Malabon (P307.004 million); Navotas (P197.713 million); San Juan (P101.794 million); and Pateros (P52.419 million).

Asked about financial aid for other provinces under a lockdown, DBM Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda in a Viber message said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has no figures yet regarding the bottom 80% population of Laguna.

On the other hand, she noted that residents in Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro were given cash assistance by the DSWD in late July.

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said she hopes that DBM could release more financial aid, citing about five to six million workers in Metro Manila could be affected by a “no work, no pay” scheme during the lockdown.

“Baka marami na naman magreklamo na hindi sila nasali sa listahan, bagamat kailangan na kailangan nila ang ayuda. Kaya’t magandang P1,000 per head na lang ang ilaan natin na ayuda para sa ECQ-affected individuals (There could again be concerns of people saying they were not included in the list of recipients, even when they need aid. So it would really be better if there is cash aid of P1,000 per head),” she said in a Viber message.

Ms. Quimbo is one of the principal authors of the Bayanihan III or Bayahian to Arise as One Act, which includes a P2,000 cash subsidy for all Filipinos. The P400-billion stimulus package has been approved by the House of Representatives but is still pending in the Senate.

“Economic managers committed to look for funds. No word yet on how much they have found,” Ms. Quimbo said, noting their meeting happened weeks ago when the Delta variant was not yet an issue. Earlier, economic managers have said they could only fund P173 billion for a stimulus response this year.

She said disbursing financial aid will help encourage Filipinos to stay at home and prevent the spread of the virus.

“Because of the prolonged lockdowns since the pandemic started, we cannot expect our kababayans to have savings to tide them over another round of lockdown,” she said.

Meanwhile, Asian Institute of Management economist John Paulo R. Rivera said the manner in which financial aid will be distributed will also be crucial. To recall, people had to line up to get the cash assistance in previous lockdowns, raising concerns these would be so-called “super spreader” events.

“What is more important is that the cash assistance reach those who need it the most in a less inconvenient way compared to previous lockdowns,” Mr. Rivera said in a text message.

Infections rose by 10,623 to bring the active cases to 74,297 on Friday, based on data from the Department of Health. This is the highest daily increase since April.

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