DILG clarifies gov’t COVID-19 aid for all, but poor families will be prioritized

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has clarified that residents from gated communities and private subdivisions can still get assistance from the government amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, but they are not a priority.

The DILG made the clarification following reports that the department allegedly said it will not provide assistance to those who live in private subdivisions.

In a statement, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya stressed that they never said that residents of private subdivisions are in no need of or do not deserve government help amid the public health crisis.

Malaya said the department “strongly condemns the attempt by certain sectors to misrepresent, misquote or otherwise place out of context” his and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año’s earlier statements about the distribution of government assistance.

“What Secretary Año said in his press conference in Malacanang and I said in the DILG show ‘Kuwentuhang Lokal’ on DZMM Teleradyo is that residents of private subdivisions and gated communities who are well-off should not expect food packs or relief goods from the Local Government Units because those are for poor and indigent families who are mostly daily wage earners, no work no pay, and are in dire need of government assistance,” Malaya said.

The DILG official said that the government’s assistance is for all but vulnerable sectors and poor families in need of help will be given a priority.

“We NEVER said that only the poor will be assisted. Of course, the government will assist them. That is why Congress passed RA 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” so that everyone is helped because COVID-19 affects us all,” Malaya said

“We are not a rich country. We are a poor country. We do not have limitless resources. Thus, we have to prioritize,” he added.

According to Malaya, around 18 million households or 73% of all households in the country are poor or low-income in the informal sector, and are typically under the “no-work, no-pay scheme,” have no SSS, and have negligible or no savings.

“The food packs currently being distributed by the LGUs are meant for them for them to be able to survive this crisis,” he added.

Malaya said that those in the formal economy which is some 6.6 million households all over the country will receive other forms of government assistance during this crisis but not the food packs.

According to Malaya, these types of assistance include the following:

  • Credit facilities and reduced lending rates
  • Reprieve in the payment of national and local taxes, fees and other charges required by law to ease the burden of families and individuals
  • 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans (including salary, personal, housing and motor vehicle loans) including credit card payments without incurring penalties, fees and charges; and
  • A 30-day grace period in the payment of residential rent, without incurring interests, penalties and fees.

“In addition, DOLE’s COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will provide cash subsidy to workers in the formal economy who are affected by the crisis, while the TUPAD program, will provide temporary employment for displaced workers,” the DILG said.

“Government has also appealed to private sector employers to assist their employees in this time of hardship and many have responded positively. This does not include special programs by LGUs and other National Government Agencies that are implemented by them separately, like discounts in the payment of Real Property Taxes and other local taxes and fees,” it added.

The department called on the public to refrain from spreading false information as the country responds to the COVID-19 crisis.

“As frontliners in the war against COVID-19, responding to irresponsible and malicious statements take time, effort, and energy from what could have been utilized for more productive pursuits to defeat our common enemy,” it said.

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