Press Release
April 8, 2020

Sotto presses for improve distribution of govt aids

SENATE President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday pressed for improvements in the distribution of government aids amid growing survival concerns among families extremely affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) put in place to mitigate the health impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sotto said government assistance can cover a wider base if it is provided with proper information on the total number of households and families in the country, sources of income, vulnerabilities and other pertinent data.

The Senate chief said the following offices can coordinate and pool together their data bases: Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and local government units (LGUs).

"Government assistance should cover ALL those who are affected by the lockdown. Government should strive to help everyone whose sources of income and livelihood have been crippled by the pandemic. Even the middle-income needs help. Nawalan din naman sila ng pagkakitaan, nabawasan din ang kanilang source of income," Sotto said.

Sotto said government can expand the coverage of its relief assistance and include formal and middle-income workers, whose incomes have also been affected by the work stoppage order under the ECQ.

He noted reports that salary adjustments have been adopted by medium and small-medium enterprise (MSMEs) to stretch their financial resources while the Luzon region remains under lockdown.

"I totally agree that we should help the poor deal with the current situation. But we should also provide assistance to the other sectors of our society. They, too, are also experiencing difficulties because of the work stoppage in all industries. Government should also extend a helping hand to them," Sotto said.

Also, Sotto urged government leaders to coordinate with private businesses which have been donating food and other essential assistance amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

Sotto raised concerns of a possible duplication in the distribution of cash and food packs being given by the government and private donors, noting that all assistances are given to the less advantaged, leaving the middle-income and formal sector workers looking at empty boxes.

He cited reports that packages of food essentials have been distributed by private investors and business executives to low-income families and members of the vulnerable sectors, who are also the recipient of government cash subsidies.

"All workers and families who are experiencing difficulties because of the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic are equally entitled to public and private assistance. There should be no social discrimination at this time because everyone, each Filipino, need help," Sotto stressed.

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