Duterte OKs ECQ ‘in kind’ aid for 22.9M people in NCR Plus

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021   •   369

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the distribution of assistance to nearly 23 million beneficiaries to help them cope with the effects of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) being enforced in the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble to stem the surge in COVID-19 cases.

During Duterte’s weekly talk to the people late Monday night, Budget Secretary Wendell Avisado said the government will be giving at least P1,000 worth of ‘in-kind’ assistance to a total of 22.9 million low-income people.

Avisado said around 80 percent of the population in the NCR Plus will receive assistance, and the benefits will be limited to four individuals per family.

The beneficiaries will be based on the information from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Economic Development Authority.

The budget chief said they are ready to download the P22.9 billion funds directly to local government units in the NCR Plus bubble for the distribution of the goods as soon as the President approves the memorandum.

“Wala po tayong cash dito. We will leave it to the local government units dahil sila naman talaga ang first line na pinupuntahan ng mga tao, na sila po ang mag-allocate nito,” he said.

The budget for the assistance program will be sourced from the remaining unutilized funds of the Bayanihan 2 law, which is the country’s second pandemic stimulus package.

Avisado assured Duterte that the release of the budget for the assistance program no longer needs the approval of Congress because the Bayanihan 2 authorizes the president to allocate the unutilized funds to respond to the public health crisis.

Local government units will be required to submit a list of beneficiaries and disbursement report for the Commission on Audit.

Metro Manila and four nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna have been placed under ECQ from March 29 to April 4 in a bid to quell the rising COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines has so far recorded a total of 731,894 COVID-19 infections with 13,186 fatalities. The government earlier attributed the uptick to new and more transmissible coronavirus variants. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte calls on Congress to pass remaining priority economic, public service bills

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the remaining economic and public service measures that are included in his administration’s legislative agenda.

Duterte made the call during the re-enactment of the signing of several laws that were already enacted in May.

“I hope that when both houses of Congress resume sessions this year, priority will be given to the remaining flagship programs of my administration,” he said in a speech at the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday.

These bills include the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act, and the Public Service Act.

Duterte said he wants to sign these measures “at the earliest possible time.”

During the ceremony, the president also thanked members of Congress for their efforts in ensuring that his administration’s legislative agenda will be translated into relevant policies and programs that will improve the lives of Filipinos and revive the country’s economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Duterte described Wednesday’s event as a testament to the “fruitful collaboration between the legislative and executive branches of government.”

“These laws – which open more opportunities for our people to serve in government and enable some of our LGUs to render more efficient and inclusive service – are part of our vision of bringing government closer to the people,” he said.

The president expressed optimism that more government agencies cooperate as the country takes more concrete steps to revive the economy and help the people recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“Now, more than ever, we need to follow the whole-of-nation approach in ensuring an inclusive and seamless response to the current challenges facing the nation,” he said.

“To the Filipino people, let me assure you that your government will continue to pursue measures that will improve and enhance your way of life,” he added.

Duterte also expressed confidence that with the help of Congress, his administration can pursue its legislative agenda that will improve and enhance the lives of Filipinos and promote the nation’s progress.

Among the recently signed laws that the President ceremonially signed were Republic Act (RA) 11549 or An Act Lowering the Minimum Height Requirement for Applicants of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor); RA 11544 or An Act Converting the Municipality of Calaca in the Province of Batangas Into a Component City To Be Known as the City of Calaca; RA 11545 or An Act Reapportioning the First Legislative District of the City of Caloocan Into Two Legislative Districts; and RA 11546 or An Act Reapportioning the Province of Bulacan Into Six Legislative Districts.

Congress will resume session on July 26 when the president delivers his final State of the Nation Address.

Hiling na isailalim sa ECQ ang 3 lugar sa Bicol, pinag-aaralan na – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

Pumalo sa 2,349 ang bilang ng bagong kaso ng COVID-19 sa Bicol Region sa huling dalawang linggo batay sa ulat ng Department of Health (DOH).

Batay sa tala ng DOH mula Hunyo 15, nangunguna sa may pinakamaraming kaso sa rehiyon ang mga lalawigan ng Albay (696), Camarines Sur (584), Sorsogon (341), Naga City (297), at Masbate (223).

Sa kasalukuyan, tanging ang Naga City ang nasa ilalim ng modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) hanggang June 30, 2021.

Samantalang ang malaking bahagi ng Bicol Region ay nasa ilalim ng modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), ang pinakamaluwag na quarantine restriction.

Bunsod nito, hiniling ng Bicol Region medical groups sa Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) na mapasailalim sa pinakamahigpit na community quarantine ang mga lalawigan ng Albay, Camarines Sur, at Sorsogon pati na ang mga lungsod ng Legazpi, Naga, at Sorsogon.

Anila, nakababahala ang pagtaas ng kaso na iniuugnay sa local transmission bunsod ng maluwag na pagpapatupad ng minimum health standards, hindi pagsunod ng local officials sa Inter-Agency Task Force regulations, mabagal, inaccessible at di sapat na testing at poor contact tracing efforts at iba.

Ayon naman kay DILG Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, pinag-aaralan na ng DILG ang apela ng mga medical frontliner.

“For Bicol, its under study. We are meeting with DOH this afternoon to hear their recommendations,” ani Malaya. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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Opposition open to alliances; must go beyond anti-Duterte platform in 2022 polls – Drilon

Robie de Guzman   •   June 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the opposition group “must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform” in next year’s elections.

“The opposition must go beyond an anti-Duterte platform. The opposition must present a platform, which says that we can do better in the pandemic response because this is where the errors are committed and this is what we are going to do,” Drilon said in a television interview.

When asked to comment on observations that there is no one strong opposition candidate at this point, the senator said that having one opposition candidate is “desirable” but admits to it being a “very difficult task.”

“… [I]t is desirable to have one opposition candidate. That is what the 1Sambayan is trying to do. That is a very difficult task. They have taken upon themselves that difficult task. We support their effort,” he said.

“We do hope that the opposition can come up with only one candidate. As in any election in the past, the administration would always have the advantage. We must exert every effort to have one candidate to oppose the administration candidate,” he added.

Last week, political coalition 1Sambayan revealed their list of presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The list includes Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, Senator Grace Poe, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and CIBAC party-list Representative Eddie Villanueva.

If Robredo decides not to run in 2022 polls, Drilon, who sits as Liberal Party vice chairperson, said the Liberal Party is open to alliances.

“That is the reality of politics today. As we said, we should only have one candidate. We cross our fingers that VP Robredo will decide to run for president and we believe she is the strongest and, hopefully, she can unite all the non-Duterte candidates,” he said.

“If she does not run for the presidency, then the LP will have to meet and see where we will go from there,” he added.

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