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Budget chief told: Produce ayuda funds

President Rodrigo Duterte, who approved the return of the national capital region to Enhanced Community Quarantine starting August 6, has ordered the budget department to look for funds to aid the area's residents, Malacañang said Friday.

The return to the strictest form of lockdown will be until August 20 to check the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and to shield the country's medical system, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a text message to reporters..

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos said the national government would distribute cash aid to poor families in Metro Manila once the ECQ begins.

The 17 local chief executives in the National Capital Region agreed to place Metro Manila under hard lockdown if the national government could provide cash aid to poor families and allocate more COVID-19 vaccines.

Abalos, who coordinates between the COVID-19 task force and Metro Manila mayors, said the government had approved their request.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda stressed the need for the passage of the Bayanihan 3 that would provide a cash subsidy to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The imposition of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in Metro Manila due to the threat of the Delta variant brings to light the urgency of Bayanihan 3, and we appeal to our counterparts in the Senate to pass this measure and to our economic managers to secure funding for this bill," Velasco said.

"We must strive to find a balance between keeping our citizens safe while ensuring that their essential needs are secured," he added. 

Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said the only recourse was to pass  a supplemental budget through the proposed Bayanihan 3. 

"The economic managers were broaching the idea of a 173 billion package. We can live with that. The Senate majority appears willing to live with it as well," Salceda said. 

For his part, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano appealed to the national government to provide P10,000 cash aid to families residing in Metro Manila after the announcement that it would be placed under ECQ by next month. 

Cayetano, a former Speaker, said the government' Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers program must continue for the businesses and workers to survive amid the strictest lockdown if the P10K ayuda bill would not be passed on time. 

“Some businesses will not survive the ECQ because the people have not saved enough for the new lockdown. Workers like waiters, chefs, and entertainers will slowly lose their jobs and they have not had regular work for one year already” Cayetano said in a statement. 

"If they want to keep businesses alive pending the 10K ayuda, then go for TUPAD,” he added.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Enhanced Community Quarantine , Cash aid , ECQ , COVID-19
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