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18 million poor families to get subsidies

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Around 18 million poor families in Luzon will receive subsidy during the enhanced community quarantine.

One of the salient points of Republic Act 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” is the granting of financial assistance worth between PHP5,000 and PHP8,000 for 18 million low-income households affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

According to the new law, the poor families will receive the monthly emergency subsidy for two months.

“The subsidy shall be computed based on the prevailing regional minimum wage rates,” RA 11469, inked by Duterte on March 24, said.

The law also states that the subsidy received from the current conditional cash transfer program and rice subsidy should be taken into consideration in the computation of the emergency subsidy.

On March 27, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases directed local government units (LGUs) to submit their existing beneficiary database to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) to determine those who are qualified to get the emergency subsidy from the government.

The national government is set to realign some PHP275 billion from the national budget in an effort to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.

Around PHP200 billion of the PHP275-billion budget is expected to be utilized for the emergency subsidy plan for the 18 million low-income households.

During the “Laging Handa” public briefing on Saturday, DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the agency is now in close coordination with the Department of Finance to compute the maximum subsidy per region.

“Tinitignan natin ‘yung minimum wage level na close approximation sa amount na kinakailangan para sa isang household na makabili ng basic food, medicine, at ibang pangangailangan (We’re looking at the minimum wage level that is in close approximation to amount each household needs to buy basic food, medicine, and other necessities),” she said.

Dumlao said the department would also check its existing list of some 4 million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to identify those eligible to receive the emergency subsidy from the government.

She added that the DSWD would coordinate with LGUs in order to complete the 18 million poor households who will benefit from the emergency subsidy.

Dumlao said families entitled to the financial aid are those who are under “no work, no pay” scheme; have no pensions, benefits, and savings; and are working in the retail, trade, construction and other basic services.

In an interview with DZMM on March 25, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go explained that conditional cash transfer beneficiaries, who currently receive PHP1,500 from the existing program, would only get PHP6,500 to reach the maximum PHP8,000 emergency subsidy.

He cited that poor households in Metro Manila will be granted PHP8,000, while those in other provinces will receive PHP5,000.

“Good for two months po ito... For low-income families, depende po sa minimum wage sa lugar ninyo (It is good for two months. The amount you will get depends on the minimum wage in your area)," Go said.

There are currently around 18 million low-income households in the Philippines, according to the 2020 projections based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey.

People living in Luzon were advised to stay home and limit their movements to accessing basic necessities during the month-long quarantine in an effort to stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country.

As of Sunday afternoon, there are around 1,418 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 71 deaths and 42 recoveries.

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