MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Eduardo Año on Wednesday said the distribution of the cash aid for qualified recipients in Metro Manila will possibly begin on August 6, when the region is under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Siguro pagpatak ng ating ECQ, pilitin nating masimulan na yang ‘ayuda’ distribution. Siguro may konting changes diyan pero nasa mga LGUs (local government units) naman natin yung final determination yung listahan ng mga nangangailangan kaya madali naman yan ma-resolve (We might start the aid distribution once the ECQ starts. There might be a few changes but the LGUs have the final say in terms of determining who would be included on the list so these things will be easily resolved),” Año said in a radio interview.
Some PHP13.1 billion worth of cash assistance will be distributed to around 10.7 million Metro Manila residents who will be affected by the strictest quarantine status from August 6 to 20.
Año also clarified that the final list of beneficiaries will be provided by the LGUs, with the aid to be distributed either through manual payout, money remittance centers, or house-to-house distribution.
While noting that there is no rule prohibiting unvaccinated persons from leaving their homes, he advised them to be extra careful to avoid contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
If possible, Año said vaccinated members of the household should be the ones going out to buy food, medicine, or other essential needs.
“Those we call employees of establishments authorized under ECQ and those who will be vaccinated are considered APORs. So those are the only ones that will be allowed and we will be strict here because our objective here is to restrict the actions of the people so that we can stop the transmission chain, especially since we already have Delta variant transmissions,” he said.
In a zoom meeting with the business sector and other Cabinet members on Wednesday, Año encouraged the private sector to chip in their ideas and suggestions on how the lockdowns can be carried out while minimizing the blow on the people and the economy.
He reiterated that the business and private groups should not hesitate in offering their insights and suggestions stressing that the fight against Covid-19 is a shared responsibility between the government and the people.
Admitting that the current pandemic may be frightening for others, Año called on people not to be intimidated by these trials and that these should serve as a catalyst “for us to unite and act together.’’
No ban on humanitarian activities
Meanwhile, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar clarified that there is no prohibition on the conduct of humanitarian activities for ECQ- affected residents.
“Gusto ko lang i-clarify na walang kaming statement na sinabing bawal ang humanitarian activities. Even under ECQ, mayroon tayong mga humanitarian relief operations pero ang lahat ng ito dapat may approval and coordination with the LGU pati na rin yung agency na involved doon (I just want to clarify that we do not have a statement that says so that humanitarian activities are prohibited. Even under ECQ, we have humanitarian relief operations but all of them must have approval and coordination with the LGU as well as the agency involved there.),” Eleazar said in an online forum.
He said it would also be better if donors will coordinate with village officials to identify target recipients for the conduct of house-to-house distribution to avoid mass gatherings.
Drop anti-vax rallies
The PNP chief, meanwhile, urged people opposing the government’s Covid-19 vaccination program to desist from conducting rallies amid the threat of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
“Nakarating sa aking kaalaman ang panghihimok ng ilan nating kababayan sa social media na samahan sila sa isang planong magsagawa ng malawakang protesta laban sa isinasagawang free vaccination ng ating pamahalaan (It has come to my attention that some of our countrymen are convincing others through social media to join their plan to conduct a massive protect action against the government’s ongoing Covid-19 vaccination),” he said.
While he respects freedom of expression and the right of some people to refuse vaccination, Eleazar said encouraging others to do something that would pose threat to public health is a different matter.
As of Wednesday, a total of 37,275,780 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have arrived in the country.
The latest vaccine shipment in the country consists of over three million doses of Moderna jabs that arrived on Tuesday, a bulk of which would be allotted to indigents.
To date, the government has administered over 21.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses. Of this number, more than 9.36 million have been fully vaccinated.
The Philippines aims to achieve “population protection” against Covid-19 by inoculating 50 to 60 percent of the population with concentration in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal by yearend. (PNA)