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Duterte’s lockdown causing more Filipinos to depend on govt – SWS

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Social Weather Stations president Mahar Mangahas said the lockdown has compelled more Filipinos to increase their reliance on government for their food and money.

Mangahas has been critical of the government’s decision to extend the enhanced community quarantine to more than 10 weeks (the longest lockdown in the world) from the original plan of four weeks, saying this was unnecessary and could pull the marginalized deeper into poverty.

“The lockdown has caused a state of dependency among the people. Given its continued reluctance for the people to resume their customary livelihoods—in particular, its sluggishness in permitting ordinary public transport to operate—the government must keep devising schemes to keep millions of people on ‘amelioration’, and new ways to finance the doles. Otherwise it may bring on a second wave of hunger,” said Mangahas in his Inquirer column.

Mangahas noted that hunger rate “exploded” during the lockdown to 16.7 percent (20 percent in Metro Manila) or almost double the proportion of families that experienced hunger due to lack of food in the December survey.

“Yet the COVID-19 crisis did not cause a shortage of food, nor an increase in the price of food. What it did was to frighten the government into locking up the great majority of the Filipino people in their homes, away from their regular livelihoods, for fear of spreading the disease,” said Mangahas.

“Correctly anticipating the consequences, the government introduced a cash dole program aimed to feed 18 million families, or 80 percent of the whole country. Without the amelioration program, the suffering from hunger would surely have been much worse,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has targeted an initial P18 million families as recipients of P5,000 to P8,000 per month in social amelioration program. The government is spending roughly P100 billion a month for the SAP.

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