On May 31, the Department of Finance announced that the Philippines has secured almost P229 billion in additional foreign loans as of mid-May—P85 billion of which is from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) while P25 billion came from the World Bank. In a statement released by the World Bank, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that the loan will be used to “provide immediate relief to poor and low-income Filipinos plus small business workers who lost their income as a result of the work stoppages induced by the coronavirus pandemic.” However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Laging Handa press briefing on May 30, “Tong buwan ng Hunyo, dahil lahat na tayo ay nasa general community quarantine (GCQ) na ay wala pong ayuda.”
There will be no financial assistance to given by the government to low-income families this June as the country shifts to more relaxed quarantine measures, Malacañang said Saturday. | @KHallareINQ https://t.co/dij9K5AtVa
Although the administration will still be finding ways to provide assistance to areas still under ECQ, Roque reiterated today that they will be focusing on handing out the second tranche of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) supposedly distributed in May to 12 million qualified beneficiaries whether or not they’re living in an area now under relaxed lockdown rules.
Back in April, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Albay Rep. Joey Salceda gave a breakdown of the cash subsidy under the SAP included in the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020 (Republic Act No. 11469) He said that for two months, each poor family in Metro Manila is entitled to a maximum of P8,000 while those from seven less prosperous regions (such as Bicol and Caraga) will receive P5,000.
On May 22, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that of the P200 billion allotted aid, it has distributed P98.4 billion for the SAP’s first tranche and that the aid has reached 17.4 million families which is 97.1 percent of their target. Then on May 27, DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao admitted that while there were 1,479 LGUs who had completed the first tranche of the SAP, only 659 had submitted their liquidation reports.
Regarding the rollout of aid under the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program which promised 3.4 million eligible employees of small businesses P5,000 to P8,000 for two months, the latest Social Security System (SSS) data released on May 24 states that the government has released P21.8 billion for 2.85 million beneficiaries. The Department of Labor said that for second-tranche payout small business employees will be receivingonly up P3,000 or nothing.
Because of the slow release of reports and stories of people who have yet to receive aid, netizens have expressed low confidence in the administration’s commitment to lifting communities and families from the difficult financial situations that they fell into during the pandemic.
Here’s to hoping that we’ll be receiving more breakdowns on how the government has and plans to spend the country’s COVID-19 response fund.