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Bong Go proposes financial aid to LGUs

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Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go proposed a one-time ‘Bayanihan’ financial aid to cities and municipalities to help them respond to the needs of their constituents amid the Covid-19 health emergency.

“Tulungan dapat ang mga local government units na maalagaan ang mga komunidad nila sa panahong ito. Malaking tulong kung mabigyan sila ng dagdag na pondo para mapunan ang lumalaking pangangailangan ng mga tao ngayon (We should help the LGUs in taking care of their respective communities during this time [of the crisis]. Giving them additional funds to address the increasing needs of the people would be a great help),” Go said in a statement.

“The one-time grant will go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of LGUs in responding to the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

In his proposal, every city and municipality would be given a one-time grant from the national government, equivalent to one month of their respective internal revenue allotments (IRA).

He said only cities at municipalities would be given the financial assistance to avoid duplication, since "provinces and barangays have the same constituencies anyway."

Go said the grant should be on top of other assistance that national government agencies are already providing to LGUs.

He said the grant would be used "exclusively" for projects, programs and activities concerning the Covid-19 situation, such as procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline service providers; medicines and vitamins; hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants and related equipment; relief goods for low-income and vulnerable households; and tents for temporary shelter of the homeless.

The grant may also be used for food, transportation and accommodation expenses of medical personnel and other LGU personnel involved in activities related to the Covid-19 situation; lease or rental of quarantine centers; and other necessary expenses.

The one-time "Bayanihan" financial assistance can be sourced from available funds or savings of the national government and may be released through the Bureau of the Treasury using the same bank accounts for the IRA shares of the LGUs.

“Siyempre, siguraduhin natin na gagamitin lang ang pondo sa layunin nito at hindi ito mapunta sa katiwalian. Ipagbawal nating gamitin ito sa suweldo ng mga personnel, pambili ng motor vehicles, at mga administrative at traveling expenses na wala namang kinalaman sa Covid-19 situation,” Go said.

(Of course, we will make sure that the grant will only be used as intended, and would not just go to corruption. We will prohibit the use of the fund for personnel salary, procurement of motor vehicle and other administrative and travel expenses that are not related to the Covid-19 situation.)

He also urged local government officials to ensure that the assistance reaches those who need government aid the most, particularly the poorest of the poor, vulnerable sectors and displaced workers, emphasizing that "politics should not be a factor in providing such assistance."

“Pakiusap ko lang, huwag na pong haluan ng pulitika ang pagtulong. Hindi po iyan nakakatulong sa sitwasyon natin ngayon. Huwag na natin pahirapan pa ang mga tao, tumulong na lang tayo na pabilisin ang pagbigay ng tulong sa kanila (I beg you not to politicize the giving of assistance. It will not help the current situation. Let us not add to the woes of the people, let us just help in expediting the distribution of assistance to them),” Go said.

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