‘Farmers are seeking for urgent production subsidy’

“Farmers are seeking for urgent production subsidy to aid them in cropping and food production. However, DA chose to channel the budget to projects that are vulnerable to corruption.

The projects listed by DA under ALPAS-COVID all have lump sum budget without specific details on the actual implementation and target beneficiaries. We demand full transparency on the utilization of funds as well as the list of beneficiaries who have received cash aid, loans, and other assistance from DA and its agencies.”

Danilo Ramos
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Carlo Francisco

Reporting the people’s demands is not a crime

Information is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reporting the people’s grievances and demands is the solemn duty of the media; it is not a crime.

The Guimba municipal council’s Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 52 s.2020 last May 11 empowered the mayor of the Nueva Ecija town to file criminal charges against radio network Radyo Natin Guimba (RNG) for alleged violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11469) by reporting the complaints of residents over the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Prior to the resolution, RNG reported that a municipal councilor and son of the incumbent mayor confiscated RNG field reporter Lina Villaflor’s media identification cards issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office.

Earlier, on April 22, the mayor had written the station requesting a copy of the radio broadcast aired that day, stating that the “false and malicious” statements made by the commentator could be a basis for his legal action against the station.

This is a form of censorship meant to intimidate the media into either silence or reporting eventually and issues in a manner acceptable to local government officials.

Subsequent direct attacks against the station have been reported, among them the barring of RNG reporters from covering the sessions of the Guimba Sangguniang Bayan. On May 19, the local police again barred an RNG reporter from covering the distribution of rice seeds to farmers.

All these are in violation of press freedom, and were apparently in response to RNG’s reports on the problematic implementation by the Guimba local government of the SAP.

RNG reported that several residents had trooped to their station to air complaints on the “selective” manner in which the cash aid is being distributed—that the municipality and its barangay officials were prioritizing rich farmers over small tillers.

RNG also reported that the local police have prevented them from taking photos and videos of people who trooped to the municipal hall to complain about the SAP implementation.

As much as it is the constitutional right of the people to air their grievances, it is also the constitutional right – and the primordial duty – of the press to report on these issues.

Local government executives should keep in mind that that the current national emergency does not empower officials to silence dissent and curtail press freedom, both of which are essential to a functional democracy in which elected officials are duty-bound to defend the Constitution.

‘Government is fighting the COVID-19 with blindfolds on’

“The absence of mass testing, isolation, and contact tracing describes the Duterte administration’s lack of concrete plan. The idea of shifting to modified lockdown and passing the fate of millions of Filipinos to the private sector demonstrates how government is fighting the COVID-19 with blindfolds on.”

Daryl Angelo Baybado
National President,
College Editors Guild of the Philippines

Jo Maline Mamangun

To give or not to give SAP tranche 2

by Xandra Liza C. Bisenio

How many mothers have been forced to leave their little ones at home, walk far, and stand in long lines for ayuda only to go home empty-handed? How many senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD), despite their frailty and limits, still tried to get support but in vain?

What can government say to people asking: “Paano na kami, ano nang kakainin namin sa sunod? Kung ano-ano nang ginagawa sa itlog – nilalaga, sinisigang, inaadobo.”, or “Itinutulog na lang ng mga anak ko ang agahan at tanghalian, kasi pang-isang kain na lang ang meron kami.” There are countless, grimmer accounts of such despair.

As of May 16, exactly two months after Luzon and some parts of the country were put under a lockdown to contain COVID-19, the official count of beneficiaries that have not received the first tranche of social amelioration was still quite a number – 811,193 families or some 4 million people. Even if everyone gets served eventually, the point is that millions of Filipinos were made to wait that long for the much-needed aid to come. Yet the Duterte administration dilly-dallies about distributing the second tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP), as if it is an option to give or not to give.

Those who are in modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) areas unarguably need continued support from government. The lockdown has caused two months of difficulty in terms of jobs, livelihood and incomes.

But the over 13 million families who now fall in the category of general community quarantine (GCQ) also still need continued support. They were also under lockdown for six to eight weeks and, at best, only got a small amount of support under the first tranche. Moreover, data as of the exact second month of the lockdown showed that there were even 659,850 households in GCQ areas who have actually not yet received their first tranche. This included 189,467 households in the new GCQ areas.

There should be no question that the second tranche needs to be distributed not just in the remaining MECQ areas but in the GCQ areas as well.

Bayanihan is explicit about it

The SAP targets 17.7 million beneficiaries. The National Capital Region, Region III except Aurora and Tarlac, Laguna, Mandaue City and Cebu City are under MECQ until the end of the month, covering about 4 million beneficiaries. Erstwhile ECQ areas Benguet, Pangasinan, CALABARZON except Laguna, Ilo-ilo, Cebu, Davao City and Bacolod City now join the rest of the country under GCQ – bringing the number of SAP beneficiaries in GCQ areas up to 13.7 million.

The usual economic activities can resume in GCQ areas. There are still minimum health requirements such as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and bodily protection because the battle against the coronavirus continues. MECQ areas meanwhile maintain restrictions on mobility outside the home, as well as on non-essential activities.

Malacañang initially announced that only MECQ areas will get the second tranche of social amelioration. Soon after, the president gave orders to not just give it all 18 million families but to actually add 5 million more, earning him additional popularity points. Yet is this really something for the president to give or not give according to how generous he is feeling?

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Law or Republic Act 11469 is actually clear. Section 4 (c) of explicitly states that the government shall “Provide an emergency subsidy to around eighteen (18) million low income households: Provided, That the subsidy shall amount to a minimum of Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) to a maximum of Eight thousand pesos (P8,000.00) a month for two (2) months.”

Making the people wait

At the onset of the Bayanihan law, the government promised Php250 billion for social amelioration and health response. It acknowledged the huge task of strengthening the country’s health system to contain the coronavirus and to save lives. It also recognized that the lockdown would result in widespread displacement of jobs and disruption of livelihoods, badly hitting the majority of the country’s low-income households.

Two months later, there is still no consensus among scientists and medical professionals on whether or not the pandemic curve is flattening. The number of confirmed cases continues to rise, now exceeding 12,700, and also deaths at over 830 already. Our health workers and frontliners are holding the line as best as they can. But they are also the first to take the brunt amid a private sector-dominated health system that is itself ailing from a gross lack of equipment, facilities, infrastructure and manpower to  deal with the pandemic.

The government owes the health sector a grand boost, in the same way that it owes the people in the GCQ areas the second tranche of SAP.

To what end

Is the administration’s dilly-dallying part of a script where, to be able to give help to now 23 million SAP beneficiaries, the government will now be forced to sell public assets to fund social amelioration? Who is buying – China?

Time and again, Malacañang has said that it doesn’t have enough funds, and that it’s only thanks to the president’s prudence that the government has found money to spend. Still, resources are limited so the people have to wait. Or even sacrifice – social welfare secretary Rolando Bautista even once said that not receiving the second tranche is perhaps actually in the spirit of Bayanihan, in freeing up resources for others.

Yet there are funds that can be tapped without the government selling off its assets. IBON estimates a universe of Php3 trillion worth of funds that can be explored and tapped. This includes: realigning Build, Build, Build and confidential and intelligence funds; realigning debt service payments by pushing for a debt moratorium, restructuring or even cancellation; and raising new revenues from issuing COVID-19 solidarity bonds and higher income taxes and wealth taxes on the super-rich.

This would indeed mean a big shift for the Duterte administration whose economic managers already have their minds set on a recovery program that pushes instead of thwarts those business-biased measures, for example, big-ticket infrastructure, tied debts, lower corporate income taxes, and tax incentives for investors. But there should be no second thoughts either about doing everything necessary to help the people survive the crisis.

Some Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) did not make people trapped in the lockdown wait for too long. They defied the apparent limitations of the bureaucracy by tapping internal funds to distribute assistance to their constituents early in the ECQ. They combined technology and people’s volunteerism to deliver help as expediently as they could.

The people have been at the center of these LGUs’ emergency relief operations. This does not seem to be the case with the Duterte administration or even its predecessors. Because, if they were, why is our health system still at a loss with COVID-19? Why can’t the government drop everything to make sure that all vulnerable households get the first and second tranche of social amelioration immediately?

Why are more hapless citizens arrested than are tested? Also, why are relief volunteers, community leaders, mobile kitchens, and even journalists – who are merely trying to fill in gaps in emergency assistance – being harassed, arrested, or even killed by law enforcers?

The huge health and economic crisis that the country is facing now can only be hurdled, humanely and effectively, if the people were heeded and not hindered from actively participating. #

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Xandra heads IBON’s Media and Communications Department. She loves to write songs, listen to her panganay’s music and play chess with her bunso on the side.

Kodao publishes IBON articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.

‘Government will only be putting millions of children, teachers, education support personnel and their families at risk’

“Addressing classroom shortages, large class sizes, lack of adequate water supply, working comfort rooms, ensuring health, and (hiring additional) utility personnel in schools (must first be accomplished). The lack of gadgets and access to a strong internet connection for the new modes of teaching under the ‘new normal’ for schools would require additional budget for education, not cuts.

Without addressing these safety measures and lack of infrastructure for education, government will only be putting millions of children, teachers, education support personnel and their families at risk of getting the COVID-19 virus.”

Rep. France Castro
ACT Teachers’ Party
Assistant Minority Leader,
House of Representatives

Jo Maline Mamangun

‘Secretary Lopez is acting like Pontious Pilate’

“Secretary Lopez is acting like Pontious Pilate, refusing government’s responsibility in ensuring safe mass transportation to hundreds of thousands of workers going to work under MECQ. Naghuhugas-kamay siya sa pananagutan ng gobyerno sa mga manggagawa.”

 Elmer “Bong” Labog

 Chairperson, Kilusang Mayo Uno

Carlo Francisco

Paano aalagaan ang mental health ngayong COVID lockdown?

Sa panahon ngayon, importante ang social connection at psycho-social support sa bawat isa. Ok tayo sa pisikal na distancing pero tuloy dapat ang social connection. Sa social connection papasok ang pagtutulungan ng bawat miyembro ng pamilya para matagalan ang ECQ. Ito ang panahon ng family bonding.

Ni Dr. Reggie Pamugas/Panayam ni Raymund B. Villanueva

Sinasabi ng mga eksperto sa mundo na nagiging pandemya na rin sa mental health ang krisis na dulot ng coronavirus na pinalalala ng kwarantina at mga lockdown na nag-uutos sa mga tao na manatili na lamang muna sa loob ng bahay. Dahil mahigit nang dalawang buwan ang lockdown sa mga bansa katulad ng sa Pilipinas, marami na marahil ang nakakaranas ng psychological stress dulot ng pagkakakulong, kawalan ng interaksyon sa mga dating nakakasalamuha at kawalan ng kasiguruhan sa hanapbuhay at ikabubuhay.

Kinapanayam ng Kodao ang isa sa pinaka-aktibong sikolohista na nagbibigay-tulong sa mga pamayanang nakararanas ng matinding psychological stress. Siya marahil ang pinaka-aktibong tumulong sa mga pamayanan sa Silangang Bisayas matapos ang super-bagyong Yolanda. Siya rin ang nagbibigay-tulong sa mga taong may psychological stress dahil sa kanilang trabaho, tulad ng mga mamamahayag.

Yuris Alhumaydy

1. Ano ang mental health?

Ang kalusugang pangkaisipan o mental health, ayon sa World Health Organization ay isang kalagayan ng kagalingan kung saan ang isang tao ay maalam sa kanyang abilidad, kayang umagapay sa pangkaraniwang stress ng buhay, nakakapag-trabaho ng maayos, at nakakapag-ambag sa kanyang pamayanan.

Ang sakit sa pag-iisip o mental illnesses naman ay isang kondisyong pangkalusugan na nakakakitaan ng pagbabago-bago sa emosyon, pag-iisip o pag-uugali o kumbinasyon ng mga ito. Dulot ito ng distress o mga suliraning nagmumula sa sosyal, trabaho, o relasyon at aktibidad sa pamilya. Ito naman ay ayon sa American Psychiatric Association.

2.  Ano ang dulot ng lockdown na ito sa mental health ng karaniwang mamamayan, partikular sa tila walang malinaw na plano hinggil sa kabuhayan, pagkain, transportasyon ng mga kailangan pa ring lumabas bilang frontliners o manggagawa o arawan lamang ang kita?

Malaki ang epekto ng lockdown sa mental health ng tao. Ang tao ay social beings, kaya nung pinatupad ung social distancing na kasama sa ECQ, medyo nahirapan ung mga tao. Karamihan ay nakaramdam ngstress, nerbyos, pag-alala, kahirapan sa pagtulog, at iba pa dahil sa isip na walang kasiguraduhan at ang pagbabago ng situation (pandemic na). At dahil first time itong naranasan ng karamihan ng Pilipino, marami talaga ang kinakabahan at na-apektuhan ang kanila at ating mental health. Ang nakadagdag pa sa problema ay hindi malinaw na guidelines o plano mula sa ating gobyerno o pa-iba-iba ang sinasabi ng gobyerno at kulang ng information dissemination sa mga tao at komunidad.

3. Paano nakaka-apekto ang lockdown na ito sa mental health ng karaniwang mamamayan sa pagmamalabis sa implementasyon nito ng mga taong-gubyerno, tulad ng pagbibilad sa mga violators daw sa quarantine, pananakit sa iba, pamamahiya, at iba pang banta sa kanila?

Sa mga taong may otoridad (pulis at military o barangay tanod) lalong dumarami ang pang-aabuso sa  kapangyarihan. Dahil ang training nila ay security response at hindi medikal o matinding pag-unawa sa kapwa. Kaya, madalas, labis na implentasyon o paglabag sa karapatang pantao ang ginagawa nila. Iba ang perspective ng nagpapatupad/ LGU/ national government kumpara sa mamamayan. May covid19 pandemic man o wala, basta may paglabag sa karapantang pantao, itoy nakaka-apekto sa isipan ng tao. Isa itong traumatic experience sa kanya na hindi nya makakalimutan at pwedeng magdulot sa sakit sa isipan. Nakakalungkot lang isipin na kahit sa panahon ng covid19 ay may pangyayaring pang-aabuso pa rin sa kapwa Pilipino sa halip ng compassion, pag-unawa at pagpapasensya.

4. Ano ang dulot ng lockdown na ito sa mental health ng karaniwang mamamayan matapos nilang malaman na ang mga taong may pribilehiyo tulad nina Senador Koko Pimental ay nakakaikot pa sa mga lugar at may mga wala namang sintomas at hindi  frontliner ay nauuna sa Covid-19 testing?

Minsan nahahati ang reaksyon ng mga tao dahil sa pag-iisip na opisyal sila ng gobyerno kaya may pribilehiyo sila. Pero karamihan ng mga tao ay nagagalit sa mga pag-aabuso ng mga gobyernong opisyal. Sa panahon ng covid19, dapat may role model o responsableng tao/opisyal na sinosunod ang mamamayan para may kaayusan. Pero hindi ito nangyayari. Kapag hindi matino ang isang leader o gobyernong opisyal, magulo ang resulta. Korapsyon at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan ang nangyayari.

5. Ano ang dulot ng lockdown na ito sa mental health ng mamayan kung bawas ang impormasyong natatanggap nila dahil sa limitasyong imposed sa mga alagad ng media?

Kapag kulang ang impormasyon na nakukuha ang mamamayan dahil sa limitasyon ng media ay lalong nagdudulot ito ng pangamba, takot, nerbyos sa mga tao. Ang dagdag problema pa ay dumadami ang mga fake news na lalong nakakalito sa mamamayan.

Photo by Jinky Mendoza/Kodao

6. Ano ang dulot ng lockdown na ito sa mental health ng mamamayan kung naglipana ang fake news, pati na rin ang galing mismo sa pamahalaan?

Hindi nakakatulong yung paglaganap ng fake news sa ating bansa. Ang mga tao sa panahon ng krisis ay umaasa sa tulong ng ating gobyerno. Kapag nalilito ang tao dahil sa fake news lalo sa panahon ng krisis, lalo silang matatakot at magpa-panic. Pwede rin itong magdulot ng away sa kapwa tao.

7. Ano ang dulot ng lockdown sa mental health ng mamamayan kung walang malinaw na impormasyon kung matagumpay ba o hindi ang ginagawa ng pamahalaan upang tugunan ang krisis, kung kailan ba matatapos ang lockdown, at kung ano ang plano matapos ang ilang buwang community quarantine?

Kung walang malinaw na impormasyon sa plano kung paano sugpuin ang covid19 o hanggang kalian ‘yung lockdown, lalong maging nerbyoso, magpa-panic o matatakot ang mag tao. Kaya ang iba ay hindi sumusunod sa ECQ/ quarantine, maliban pa sa rason na ekonomiko dahil hindi malinaw ang impormasyon tungkol sa covid19 o plano sa pagsugpo nito.

8. Bakit mahalaga na pangalagaan ang mental health ng mamamayang isinasailalalim sa community quarantine, lalo na yung mga nasa isolation, forced o voluntary?

Mahalagang mapangalagaan ang mental health sa panahon ng ECQ para hindi magkasakit sa isipan. Ang tao ay sociable creature by nature kaya nakakapanibago itong isolation or ECQ sa mga tao. Natatakot, kinakabahan o pwedeng magkaroon ng pagduda sa ibang tao kapag nagkaroon ng matagal na isolation.

Photo from Burbank

9. Paano pangangalagaan ang mental health ng mga nasa lockdown at quarantine? Paano magtutulungan ang mga miyembro ng pamilya upang matagalan itong community quarantine ng pamahalaan?

Mahalaga na mapangalagaan ang ating mental health sa panahon ng lockdown. Sa individual pwede niyang gawin ang ABC ng Mental Health Care.

Ung “A” ay awareness. Self-awareness at situational awareness. Dapat kilala mo sarili mo, ang inyong kalakasan at iyong pwede pang ayusin. Dapat well-informed ka din sa mga balita. Pero mag-ingat iyong mga vulnerable sa isip, yung mga madaling mag-alala.

Yung “B” ay balance. I-balanse ang ang buhay mo sa trabaho at sa pamilya mo. Dapat ay may regular sleep pa din, may hobbies, doing work (work from home), doing exercises. Pwedeng gumawa ng schedule for a day o daily routine ng isang linggo na pwede sundan.

Ung “C” ay connection. Sa panahon ngayon, importante ang social connection at psychosocial support sa bawat isa. Ok tayo sa pisikal na distancing pero tuloy dapat ang social connection. Sa social connection papasok ang pagtutulungan ng bawat miyembro ng pamilya para matagalan ang ECQ. Ito ang panahon ng family bonding. Family can do games, teamwork in household chores, at iba pa. Sa mga magulang, sana at dapat kalmado lang ang ipinapakita nila sa anak nila, dahil nakikita at naramdaman ng kanilang anak ang kanilang kilos at reaksyon sa sitwasyon. Ipaliwanag sa anak ang nangyayari sa lebel ng kaalaman nila. Huwag sanang takutin ang mga bata sa covid19. Sa mga anak/bata, gumawa ng mga nakakatuwa or interesadong aktibidad na makatulong pag-alis ng boredom.

10. Paano mabawasan ang takot at agam-agam ng mamamayan sa lumalala pa ring pandemic na ito?

Normal matakot sa panahon ng covid19 pandemic. Pero dahil sa kakulangan ng impormasyon sa mamamayan o walang malinaw na direksyon o guidelines galing sa LGU o national government ay lalong natatakot at naging nerbiyos ang mga tao. Para mabawasan ang anumang takot at agam-agam ng mamamayan ay kailangan nilang i-practice ang ABC ng mental health/ kalusugang pangkaisipan. Pwedeng palakasin ang community care/ bayanihan din sa bawat komunidad. Ito rin ang panahon ng social solidarity, pagtutulungan sa kapwa PiIipino. Sa mamamayan na miyembro ng organisasyon, ang  tiwala, tulong, at lakas galing sa mga kinabibilangang organisasyon ay makakatulong din sa kanila. (Organizational care)

Kuha ni Jola Diones-Mamangun/Kodao

11. Ano ang panukalang national mental health program sa mga panahong tulad nito at pagkatapos?

Kahit mayroong national mental health program ang ating gobyerno, ito ay hindi nakatuon sa panahon ng covid19 pandemic. Ang pagdating ng covid19 ay hindi inaasahan ng mga tao. Pero nakikita at na-obserbahan natin na may epekto ang covid19 sa mental health ng bawat Pilipino. Kaya dapat ay importanteng maipatupad ng ating gobyerno ang mental health program sa panahon ng covid19 pandemic at kahit pagkatapos nito.

Ang national mental health program ng gobyerno ay merong promotive, preventive, treatment and rehabilitative services component. Integrated sa ibat- ibang settings sa paggamot mula sa komunidad hanggang sa pasilidad, implemented from the national to the barangay level.

Ang mga program na kalakip nito ay:

1. Wellness of Daily Living sa eskwela, trabaho at iba pang programa

2. Extreme Life Experience- pagbibigay ng psychosocial support sa personal and community wide disasters

3. Mental Disorder

4. Neurologic Disorders

5. Substance Abuse and other Forms of Addiction

Dapat ay tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pagbibigay serbisyong mental health at psychosocial support sa lahat ng mga Pilipino sa panahon ng covid19 pandemic. Sa panahon ng ECQ mas kawawa ang mga taong may sakit sa isipan at yung iba pang may kapansanan. Paano ang access nila sa mental health care provider at sa gamot kung sarado ang mga hospital na tumitingin sa kanila dahil naka-pokus lang tayo sa covid19. Sana holistic care pa rin. #

Ang Tulong Kabataan Network sa panahon ng pandemya

Isa ang Tulong Kabataan Network sa mga grupo na tumutulong sa mamamayan noon pa mang 2013 sa panahon ng bagyong Yolanda at sa kasalukuyan sa panahon ng Covid 19. Nagsasagawa sila ng community kitchen at relief operations katuwang ang mga grupo ng kabataan sa iba’t-ibang komunidad sa bansa.

Bukod dito, panawagan ng kanilang grupo ang Kalusugan, Kabuhayan at Karapatan sa panahon ng pandemya.

Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas

Lola, nananawagan ng tulong

Habang nagko-cover ang Kodao ng pag-aresto ng 18 na aktibista sa Barangay Central, Quezon City noong Biyernes, Mayo 1, lumapit ang isang lola at nakiusap na i-bidyo ang kanyang paghingi ng tulong.

Nais ni Lola Marietta “Nene” Benig ng tulong upang makabili ng kanyang gamot, partikular sa Department of Social Welfare and Development at sa Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs ng Lungsod Quezon. “Nais ko pa pong mabuhay,” ani Lola Nene.

Sa mga nais tumulong, siya ay nakatira sa No. 4, Maparaan Street, Barangay Central, Quezon City. Ang kanyang numero ay nasa dulo ng bidyo. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas)

Gov’t should deliver cash subsidies it owes 3.8M poor families in GCQ areas

by IBON Media

The government announced that it will ‘reprioritize’ social amelioration to only the areas retained under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and will ‘discontinue’ in declared general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.

But research group IBON said that some 3.8 million* vulnerable families still without assistance are at risk of slipping into deeper poverty should the government make the shift.

The group said that government should be sensitive to the plight of all still un-served and now struggling beneficiaries by making good on its promise to immediately distribute emergency subsidies.

The Duterte administration declared that the extended ECQ – previously set to end on April 30 – will be again extended to May 15 in areas classified as “high risk”.

The areas observed to still have many COVID-19 cases are Benguet, Pangasinan, Central Luzon except Aurora, Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Cebu, Ilo-ilo, Bacolod City, and Davao City.

The rest of the country – considered “low risk” and “moderate risk” areas – will be under a GCQ. Face masks and physical distancing will still be required, but work and transportation are expected to re-operate under more relaxed quarantine.  

IBON observed that despite Pres. Duterte being granted emergency powers by Congress, promised financial assistance has not been expediently delivered to the targeted 18 million poor families affected by the Luzon-wide ECQ.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) secretary Rolando Bautista said that GCQ areas will no longer receive cash subsidies due to limited social amelioration program (SAP) resources as per National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recommendation. 

Though the DSWD recently clarified that beneficiaries in the GCQ areas will still receive the first tranche of subsidies, IBON said that overall, government should stop making excuses on top of a huge SAP backlog.

The group said that government should provide humane and compassionate response and it can start by immediately dissolving all bureaucratic hurdles to deliver promised cash assistance to the millions of unserved beneficiaries including those in GCQ areas.

Relaxing activities in areas previously locked down does not offset the six-week impact of the ECQ on the incomes and livelihoods of the most vulnerable families, said the group.

Based on DSWD data, IBON noted, some 1.3 million beneficiaries or one of three target SAP beneficiaries in Luzon GCQ areas alone remain unserved as of April 29.

Meanwhile, 8.4 million households across the country are reported to have not yet received any emergency assistance.

Of these, 4.6 million households are in the retained ECQ areas and the remainder 3.8 million households are under the downgraded GCQ areas by May 1.

Also, some Php50.3 billion in SAP funds have yet to be paid out nationally, Php19 billion of which is for GCQ areas. 

IBON hit government’s indifference to the plight of the poor. The group observed that government was able to afford a one-and-a-half-month delay in emergency aid to its poorest constituents and is now deciding to even ration it.

On the other hand, the government guarantees resources for business-inclined Build, Build, Build infrastructure program and prompt debt servicing.

This is only exposing the Duterte administration’s inclination to scrimp on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable in order to survive COVID-19’s impact while saving the economy for big business.

The delayed response and the move now to even get away with it has only highlighted that the Duterte administration’s approach has only been militaristic more than humanitarian, IBON said.

The nation’s chance to survive the health crisis and the deterioration of the country’s economic crisis as aftermath is even compounded by the need to surpass such callous governance. #

* DSWD SAP data was noted for national, ECQ areas (based on announcement by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on April 30, 2020). Nationwide GCQ data for unserved beneficiaries was derived by subtracting ECQ areas data for unserved beneficiaries from national data for unserved beneficiaries.

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Kodao publishes IBON articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.