Press Release
March 15, 2020

Hontiveros pushes for PhP 10,000 assistance for poor, 'new poor' due to COVID-19

Poor Filipinos, including those who will suffer income loss due to COVID-19, should receive P10,000 cash assistance, Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement on Sunday.

"Habang marami ang nagpa-panic-buying, mas marami ang panic na lang kasi walang pang-buy," she said, urging the government to free up funds for the poor and near-poor who will be affected by regulations to contain the virus.

Hontiveros estimates that at least 650,000 Filipino households will become the 'new poor' in Metro Manila alone due to the economic implications of the lockdown. "The government should immediately track down and extend PhP 10,000 assistance to these households which will mostly come from vulnerable contractual workers and workers in the informal economy," she said.

"The same cash assistance should also be immediately disbursed to poor households within the Department of Social Welfare and Development's [DSWD] household targeting system," she added.

Hontiveros explained that companies laying off workers and COVID-19's adverse effects on the informal economy will place households more at risk in terms of their food security and health. The Senator urged DSWD and the Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] to craft and implement a comprehensive safety net for the poor and near-poor who will be adversely-affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, starting with the said cash assistance.

"This cash aid will keep Filipinos in poverty and near-poverty afloat during this COVID-19 crisis. It will help them cope with the expected inflation in goods due to the lockdown. In times of crisis, cashflow is crucial especially for poor Filipino families who need money for essential items like food, shelter, water, and medicine," Hontiveros explained.

"Sa maraming mawawalan ng cashflow, dapat magbigay-tulong ang gobyerno sa panggastos nila," she said. "This is a huge burden for our minimum-wage earners: sa mga tindero't tindera, mga jeepney and bus drivers, at iba pa na konting kalamidad lang ay nababaon na agad sa utang," she added.

According to Hontiveros, a family's loss of income will worsen their health status and will make them more at risk for COVID-19. "Sa mga manggagawa at mahihirap, mahirap gawin ang social distancing: dikit-dikit ang mga bahay at nagko-commute araw-araw. We need to help them minimize their risks through proper safety nets for their health and social protection," she pointed out.

Hontiveros said that DSWD, DOLE and local government units [LGUs] can access the calamity fund once a state of calamity is declared, either by the national government or the LGU. "In order to free up funds for this cash assistance, the national government or the respective local government units can declare a state of calamity. The COVID pandemic, without question, is a calamity," the senator advised.

"Let's minimize their risks now. Tulungan na agad natin ang mga Pilipinong isang hakbang lang ang layo sa lugmok ng kahirapan," Hontiveros concluded.

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