Duterte, lawmakers urged to provide cash aid for the poor

A protester calls for emergency wage relief during the Labor Day protest in Manila. (Photo by Carlo Manalansan / Bulatlat)
“These are dire times that require urgent action. The people need immediate relief,” they said in a joint statement sent to the media.

By JONAS ALPASAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Progressives, academics, and church leaders have urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session and to certify as urgent pending measures pushing for economic stimulus and cash aid for the poor.

So far, government social protection program has been too little and too few. The latest was a measly P1,000 ($21) per person and not more than P4,000 ($83) per family, which they pointed out as only equivalent to a” two-day wage for those who have lost their jobs or were temporarily unemployed during the ECQ.”

“These are dire times that require urgent action. The people need immediate relief,” they said in a joint statement sent to the media.

Among the measures pending before lawmakers that need to be certified as urgent are Bayanihan 3 and HB 9098 or Ayuda Bill.

Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, IFI Obispo Maximo Rhee Timbang, Ateneo de Manila University professors Dr. Michael Domingo Pante and Fructuoso Sabug, UP economics professor JC Punongbayan, University of Sto. Tomas professor Rene Luis Tadle, IBON Executive Director Sonny Africa were among those who signed the statement.

The Philippines has recently hit one million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic broke last year. It has also reverted to the strictest lockdown several times, in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

This is not the first time that Duterte was urged to call for a special session to pass a measure that will provide emergency assistance to those in need.

Sen. Franklin Drilon said intelligence and anti-communist funds may be re-aligned to provide social services after Malacañang claimed that there are no more funds for financial aid.

Progressives, academics, and church leaders reiterated the realignment of the P19-billion (US$ 395.6 billion) budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the government’s superbody to purportedly end insurgency in the Philippines.

They said that the rise of community pantries “underscores the current plight of the poor – they have no work, no food, are vulnerable to sickness and have very little means of getting back on their feet.”

“Everyday, long lines amid the scorching heat are seen at these pop-up pantries,” they said. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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