Palace eyes more beneficiaries for ECQ ‘ayuda’; aid out by end of April

MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — The government aims to provide assistance not just to poorest households but also to workers affected by the imposition of the strictest quarantine classification in the so-called “National Capital Region (NCR) plus bubble,” Malacañang said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said economic managers are expected to discuss the details of the assistance in a press briefing on Monday.

“There will be assistance given but it will be given to individuals who won’t be able to work during this one-week ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” Roque said at a press briefing on Saturday.

“We are aware that when there is a lockdown, when we impose ECQ, not only the beneficiaries of 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) would face difficulties. We will announce that on Monday. The amount may be smaller than expected but more people will receive it,” he added, referring to the government’s cash subsidy program that targets poor households.

Roque said the government wants the assistance to reach the intended beneficiaries before the end of April.

Pandemic epicenter Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are placed on lockdown beginning today until April 4 as the soaring number of COVID-19 infections threaten to overwhelm hospitals and other health facilities.

Officials have said the ECQ was imposed during the Holy Week to minimize work interference. 

Under the ECQ, persons below 18 years old and above 65 years old, those with health risks, and pregnant women should stay at home except when accessing essential goods or services and reporting for work in permitted offices or establishments.

The gathering of more than ten persons outside of the household is also prohibited. Common curfew hours of 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. are to be enforced but the movement of persons who are authorized to go outside their houses, cargo vehicles, and public transportation should not be restricted.

Only essential stores like groceries, pharmacies, and hardware can operate in malls. Restaurant operations are limited to take-out and delivery services.

Public transportation can operate subject to the protocols to be set by the transportation department.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines could no longer afford to shut down the economy because it would spell a “disaster.”

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan

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