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President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez to drop some big ticket items in the 2020 budget to free up funds for use as cash and food subsidies to locked down Filipinos.

Duterte feared a social upheaval was likely if the government does not feed the millions of Filipinos forced to stay home under the enhanced community quarantine which was likely to be extended to April 30.

“We are exploring options to adjust our budget. Iyong budget na ‘yung — ‘yung earlier na budget wala pa ‘yung COVID. Sinabi ko bawasan na lang ‘yung iba or totally ilaglag mo na lang ‘yang project na ‘yan,” said Duterte in a late night address April 6. “Ilagay mo dito kasi ang unahin natin ang tao, ang tiyan. Kasi ‘pag wala ng kinakain, a human being can be violent especially makita niya ‘yung mga anak niya wala ng kain, nag-iiyak siya. Maghingi ng gobyerno tapos wala na akong maibigay at maubos ‘yung bigas natin,” he added.

Duterte admitted that the P270 billion initially budgeted for the first two months of the national emergency on COVID was not enough specially with the rate of infection and deaths sill far from its peak. “Magnakaw ka, manghiram ka. Wala akong pakialam basta produce mo pera,” said Duterte.

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