Makabayan bloc slams inadequacy of economic assistance by the Duterte administration

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Makabayan hits 1-month worth of aid for 4 months of community quarantine and slashing of economic assistance programs

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Following Pres. Duterte’s fourteenth report to Congress in accordance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Makabayan bloc slams the gross inadequacy of socio-economic relief provided by the Duterte administration to the people amid the pandemic that has caused loss of income, jobs and livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

While the distribution of the first tranche is still incomplete, the coverage of the second tranche of the social amelioration program (SAP) has been greatly reduced.

The first tranche of SAP still has a backlog of 295,682 families, while the second tranche covers only 12,530,007 beneficiaries, as listed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (1,387,130 4Ps; 7,286,170 Non-4Ps; 3,856,707 waitlisted). This is contrary to the mandate of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which states that 18 Million families are to benefit from two tranches of aid.

Of the supposed 18-M beneficiaries, a mere 1,340,336 beneficiaries have been provided the second tranche of socio-economic aid, while the majority are still undergoing validation. Compared to the DSWD’s reported 12.530-M target, the program has a backlog of 11,189,671 family-beneficiaries. Compared to the 18-M target, the second tranche of aid has a total backlog of 16,659,664 family-beneficiaries. This dismal performance comes after over 100 days of community quarantine and with the BAHO Act already expired.

The drastic reduction of beneficiaries for the second tranche actually violates the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act itself, which mandates in Section 4 (c), that government shall provide an emergency subsidy to around 18 MILLION low-income households, amounting to a minimum of PhP 5,000.00 and maximum of PhP 8,000.00 per month for TWO months.

Moreover, the Department of Labor and Employment’s financial assistance program for Overseas Filipino Workers (CAMP-AKAP) has a backlog of 73,918 OFWs still deprived of aid. The distribution of aid is still to be completed, more than three months since a quarantine was first imposed and a week after the expiration of the Bayanihan Act.

There is also no more mention of other Social Amelioration Programs for other sectors (DSWD’s assistance to workers in the transport sector, included jeepney drivers; DOLE’s TUPAD and CAMP for informal workers; Department of Agriculture’s FSRF). These programs appear to have been cut due after funds have dried up. Meanwhile, target beneficiaries and disbursed amount for non-4Ps continue to be adjusted as names in the original list are excluded for not being qualified.

The Makabayan bloc strongly condemns the gross inadequacy and snail’s pace of aid distribution–providing only one month’s worth of aid while we are already in the fourth month of community quarantine.

Instead of meeting the people’s needs, the government has relied on increasingly fascist measures to quell growing dissatisfaction. Instead of plans for mass testing and economic recovery, we have seen the arrest of protesters all over the country, punitive measures against lockdown violators from poor communities, attacks against press freedom, and the railroading of the Terror Bill in spite of the people’s wide opposition. The Makabayan Bloc reiterates the need of the government to prioritize health solutions and economic assistance rather than militarist solutions, especially during this pandemic crisis. The COVID-19 should not be used by the government as the time to grab more fascist powers for its tyrannical rule.

Makabayan solons assert that urgent medical solutions and strengthening of the public health systems should be the top priorities of the Duterte administration in order to effectively stop COVID in its tracks while making haste in the delivery of aid in order to shield the Filipino people from the worst economic effects of the pandemic.

The Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives consists of Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia “Ka Femia” Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT-Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago. ###

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