Going into the sixth week of the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), an overwhelming majority of the most vulnerable sectors of the society are still denied of the promised emergency relief by the government.
This, Bayan Muna representative Eufemia Cullamat said to the recently released report by the executive branch of the government on the execution of the emergency power granted to it to combat the health crisis in the country.
Cullamat was specifically citing the admission contained on the fourth weekly report that, to this date, only 3.6 percent of the entire farmers and fisherfolks affected have received the social amelioration program (SAP).
“An overwhelming majority of the Filipino poor comes from the farmers and fisherfolks sectors yet only a handful of them have been given the economic relief as of yet,” Cullamat stated.
The Bayan Muna Congresswoman from the Manobo tribe of the Mindanao Island cited the report stating that only a total of 33,548 beneficiaries have been given the economic relief under the SAP for farmers this week. “Even if we add the previous week’s accomplishment report of 18,495 beneficiaries, the backlog would still be huge as the numbers of affected farmers and fisherfolk is estimated to be at 9.7 million," she said.
“We are now at the final week of the extended ECQ and the response of the government on the economic aspect of the health crisis remains to be pathetically dismal,” Cullamat lamented, adding “the people, specifically the farmers and fisherfolks, are getting hungry due to the prolonged lockdown yet the Duterte government is practically doing nothing to help them.”
"Worse, the DA is offering loans to small and marginalized farmers when these farmers are already at a loss and are earning very little if at all under this lockdown"
Under the Extended SURE Aid and Recovery Project, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is offering small and marginalized farmers zero-interest loans.
Cullamat also underscored the lack of aid for indigenous people, one of the most vulnerable sectors in the country.
"DA opportunistically tried to impose projects on ancestral lands but the report shows there has been no aid geared toward helping indigenous people. They are made even more vulnerable due to displacement and militarization even before the COVID-19 pandemic. There are reports from evacuees in Haran, for example, where aid is held hostage unless they comply with conditions of the LGU" the Lumad solon said.
Calling it “absolutely irrational, utterly irresponsible, and totally pointless,” the lumad Congresswoman also lambasted the persistence of the current administration on a military solution to the pervasive health crisis.
“It’s not a matter of lack of discipline, it’s a lack of aid. The people are hungry and getting sick. The number of infections and deaths are still shooting upward. The government continues to waste time and resources on massive military and police deployments. That is not the solution,” she said.
“The fact that the government is notoriously proud and consistent on issuing threats of imprisonments and legal actions against the critiques of its poor handling of the pandemic, and on actually jailing those from the private sectors who are helping the hungry populace, is ridiculous,” Cullamat added.
Cullamat was referring to the recent apprehension by the police of the six volunteers of the Anakpawis party list relief delivery operation in Norzagaray, Bulacan on Sunday, April 19.
The said relief delivery operation was conducted by Anakpawis party list by virtue of a permit issued by a government agency.
Cullamat cautioned that this is already the intensification of the martial-law type of lockdown as mentioned in a controversial memo released and circulated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Bayan Muna congresswoman asserted that the proper way to go through the health crisis is a health solution as in free mass testing and timely and massive provision of economic relief.
Out of 18 million families targeted, only some 4.3 million families have received aid or 24 percent of target; only 237,653 beneficiaries from the workers sector which account to 2.2 percent of the Philippine 10.7 million workers; and 235,949 beneficiaries from the informal sector which merely account to 4.5 percent of the country’s 5.2 million informal population.