Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said the government’s cash assistance program for the National Capital Region and other areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) should have been done prior to the new round of lockdowns.
In an interview with DZRH Nationwide on August 13, Cayetano said the government should have used the week before the ECQ took effect to distribute cash aid to individuals and families who would be affected by the lockdown.
“ECQ na. Dapat dalawang linggo, walang labasan sa bahay, except for essential workers. Dapat a week before, naibigay na natin ang ayuda,” he said.
(We’re already under ECQ. Except for essential workers, people are supposed to stay inside their homes for two weeks. We should have distributed cash aid a week before the lockdown.)
Metro Manila and several other urban centers across the country were placed under ECQ from August 6 to 20 in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country due to the emergence of the Delta variant.
Cayetano said some agencies responded late to President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning in his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) that another lockdown might take place.
“Tingnan niyo po ang nangyari. Kahit na nabanggit na ng ating Pangulo noong SONA na baka magkaron tayo ng heightened restriction, di binigay ang ayuda on time,” he said.
(Look at what happened. During his SONA, the President already said heightened restrictions might be implemented again. Yet they still didn’t distribute the cash aid on time.)
The former Speaker also expressed his dismay that some local government units received less cash aid compared to the lockdowns that took place in March 2021.
Cayetano said around P80 million was slashed from the overall financial assistance that was supposed to be distributed among Taguig’s residents.
“Ngayon, kulang-kulang. Kung ano yung binigay nung March, malaki ang binawas sa iba’t ibang mga city,” he said.
(Now, the cash aid is not enough. In different cities, they slashed a lot from the amount they gave back in March.)
The lawmaker said the current lockdown in Metro Manila and other parts of the country should have been an opportunity for the government to learn from its previous mistakes.
“Paalala lang ito na let’s learn from our mistakes. Ayaw natin na paulit-ulit itong ECQ kasi P150 billion ang nawawala sa ekonomiya natin every week,” he said, citing projections from the National Economic and Development Authority.
(This is a reminder: let’s learn from our mistakes. We don’t want this ECQ to happen again since our economy is losing P150 billion a week.)