By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Members of the Makabayan bloc in the Lower House warned the national government an impending “hunger epidemic” as 13-million poor Filipino families have yet to receive the long-overdue financial assistance amid the prolonged enhanced community quarantine.
“A hunger epidemic is haunting millions of families right now alongside the existing threat from COVID-19 (disease),” the Makabayan bloc said in a joint statement.
The group cited the President Rodrigo Duterte’s 27-page third report to Congress, wherein they believed that “only around one-fourth of the target has been reached, and that the latest figure only slightly increased from last week’s total number of beneficiaries despite the clamor to expedite government efforts.”
“Only 4,367,667 beneficiaries out of the 18 million target poor households have received cash aid via different Social Amelioration Programs (SAPs) under national government agencies,” based on the analysis made by Makabayan bloc congressmen over the President’s latest report to the Joint Oversight Committee for the Bayanihan Act of 2020.
“(This) indicates that his administration remains remiss in extending immediate economic relief to millions of poor Filipinos who have lost their sources of income amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read.
Among those who benefited from the government’s initial stimulus packages were the 3.72 million recipients of emergency subsidy out of 4.4 million 4Ps families provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the 40,418 beneficiaries of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) emergency subsidies to TNVS and the PUV sector; the 300,994 beneficiaries of the Rice Farmers’ Financial Assistance Program and 18,495 beneficiaries of Financial Subsidy for Rice Farmers, both under the Department of Agriculture; and the 167,841 recipients of the CAMP (COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program) and 118,086 TUPAD beneficiaries—both programs under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The Makabayan bloc also noted that the bulk of the P100-billion allotment for emergency subsidy remains stashed at the DSWD, even as poor Filipinos have been begging for aid to supplement the assistance of LGUs.
“The Makabayan bloc strongly deplore this continued and inexcusable delay in economic relief programs for the vast majority of families suffering under Enhanced Community Quarantine,” the statement read.
“We reiterate our call to expand the Social Amelioration Programs (SAPs) to cover the widest number of poor families instead of sticking to bureaucratic red tape, while at the same time instituting checks to avoid corruption and misuse of funds.”