MANILA, Philippines — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go opposed the proposal to stop COVID-19 aid distribution while Senator Jinggoy Estrada pushed for its “careful” review.
The senators’ remarks came after Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that there is no need for the aid to continue as the country’s economy has recovered from the pandemic.
“I totally disagree na ihinto ng gobyerno ang pagbibigay ng ayuda sa mga apektado ng pandemya,” Go, chair of the Senate committee on health, said in a statement issued Thursday.
(I totally disagree that the government should halt its assistance to those affected by the pandemic.)
“Hanggang nandiyan pa ang COVID-19, delikado pa ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan, apektado pa rin ang kabuhayan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.
(While COVID-19 is still there, our fellow Filipinos’ lives are in danger and their livelihoods are affected.)
For Go, alleged leakages in the aid’s provision should be “plugged” instead of being “turned off.”
Meanwhile, Estrada disagreed with Diokno’s comment that the COVID-19 aid would be “a waste of public funds” amid the economic rebound.
Estrada then called for the proposal’s review.
“While I disagree in saying that the distribution of cash aid to poor families beyond 2023 is a waste of public funds, this matter should first be carefully studied considering that we’re still far from defeating the pandemic brought about by COVID-19,” he said in a separate statement.
“Ang paglalaan ng pondo para sa ayuda, sakaling kailanganin na naman ito sa hinaharap, ay dapat pa rin isaalang-alang. Sang-ayon ako na dapat bigyan ng prayoridad sa ngayon ang mas nangangailangan para magtuloy-tuloy ang pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya,” the chair of the Senate panel on labor, employment, and human resources development added.
(Allocating funds for aid, in case needed in the future, should be considered. I agree that those in need should be prioritized for the continuous recovery of our economy.)
Estrada urged the government to focus on programs and projects that will generate jobs amid the soaring prices of commodities.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, almost three million Filipinos are unemployed in June. – Daniza Fernandez/Inquirer