SAP cash aid will continue despite Bayanihan Law expiration – Palace

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The expiration of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act will not affect the release and distribution of the cash assistance intended for low-income households gravely affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, Malacañang said on Thursday.

“Sa ngayon, wala namang epekto,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a virtual presser. “Hindi naman po sakop iyan ng Bayanihan Act. It’s a physical act of disbursing what has been allotted by Congress. So wala pong problema iyan.”

Under Bayanihan Law, the government is mandated to provide emergency subsidies ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 under the Social Amelioration Program to 18 million poor households who are heavily affected by the community quarantine.

In the first tranche of the program, family beneficiaries living in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) have already received cash aid. In the second tranche, additional five million families living in ECQ areas will receive subsidy from the government.

Roque expressed his belief that the government did its job when it came to distributing financial assistance to the program’s intended beneficiaries and other sectors affected by the pandemic.

He also believes that the government has implemented the necessary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country, such as the procurement of test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies.

“Bagaman tumaas, kung ikukumpara sa buong daigdig, di naman po ganuon ka-grabe, third in ASEAN but worldwide, I think we’ve done a very good job, lalong lalo na po sa paglimit ng mortality,” he said.

Roque, however, admits that the Bayanihan Law’s expiration will affect the country’s further needs if the public health crisis continues and more people will become infected with the virus.

“Makakaapekto po yan sa future needs natin, kita ninyo naman ang nangyari sa Cebu… Ang istorya ng Cebu ay istorya ng buong Pilipinas. Kapag sumipa po ang numero ng COVID-19, napakarami pong pangangailangan,” he said, referring to Cebu City which appears to be an emerging virus hotspot after recording a spike in the number of infections.

Meanwhile, Roque said the chief executive may call for a special session of Congress once the proposed economic stimulus program to help ride out the coronavirus pandemic is finalized.

“Magpapatawag po ang presidente ng special session kung mayroon na pong nabuong concensus kung magkano ang nabuong stimulus package dahil napasama na po sa isang panukalang batas yung extension ng emergency powers at stimulus package,” he said.

The Congress adjourned sine die its first regular session early this month without passing the proposed second Bayanihan Act.

The Palace earlier said the government prefers a proposed economic stimulus that it can afford and will not require too much borrowing.

Congress will resume its session in July. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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