FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s call for Congress to pass the 10K Ayuda Bill received a boost from Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as well as two local government units as they called on government to provide additional assistance to the Filipino people severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filed by Cayetano, Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, and their allies in the House of Representatives on February 1, 2021, the 10K Ayuda Bill seeks to give each Filipino family P10,000 or P1,500 per family member, whichever is higher, that they can use for their daily needs or to start their own businesses as the country waits for the full roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
The bill, however, has not been discussed by Congress and has been languishing at the Committee on Social Services headed by Quezon City 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas.
In a statement on Wednesday (March 24), Go urged President Rodrigo Duterte and concerned national government agencies to provide additional assistance to poor Filipinos through an expanded Social Amelioration Program.
He said government agencies need to help all poor Filipinos overcome the difficulties caused by the rising number of COVID-19 cases and ensure that all sectors needing government assistance are prioritized.
Go also said the government must work together to fill in the gaps as the needs of Filipino families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to grow and evolve.
Cayetano welcomed Go’s statement, saying it was “very significant” since the senator is the President’s “eyes and ears.”
“Sana makiramdam ang Congress and we convert into a Committee on the Whole or in any way that we can, kung kailangang humingi ng special session, para ipasa ‘to. Ginawa natin n’ung Bayanihan 1 ‘yan, ginawa natin n’ung Bayanihan 2, there’s no reason why we can’t do it again,” Cayetano told reporters on Wednesday during the inauguration the new isolation facility of Pateros.
(I hope Congress would be sense this and we convert into a Committee on the Whole or in any way that we can, even if we have to ask for a special session, in order to pass this. We did it in Bayanihan 1 and Bayanihan 2, there’s no reason we can’t do it again.)
For its part, the Tarlac City Sangguniang Panlungsod issued a resolution saying the 10K Ayuda Bill will “ensure that every Filipino is given additional assistance in recognition of the fact that we have all been affected by the pandemic, economic setbacks, and all the hardships brought about in the year 2020.”
The resolution, signed by Vice Mayor Genaro Mendoza and all 12 Sangguniang Panglungsod members, noted that the bill prioritizes the country’s vulnerable sectors: the poorest of the poor; senior citizens; persons with disabilities; solo parents; displaced, retrenched, or separated workers, or otherwise severely affected or have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also prioritized are medical front-liners (including barangay health workers); families of overseas Filipino workers; those who were not able to receive assistance through any of the social amelioration programs of the national government; and Filipino citizens holding a Philippine National ID.
Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Bayan of Alburquerque in Bohol said the eventual passage of the 10K Ayuda Bill “would greatly benefit our countrymen who have been extremely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The resolution quoted Cayetano as saying, “although Filipinos are known for their grit and resilience, assistance to our countrymen is still needed to help them survive and get back on their feet amid the pandemic while a viable vaccine program for all Filipinos is being rolled out by the government.”
It also noted that the bill will ensure delivery of the assistance to all families since it mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) “to establish, maintain, and operate a telephone hotline, website, and mobile application in order to effectively facilitate the rollout of the said program.”
The resolution was signed by Vice Mayor Alexis Fernan Simeon and all 10 Sangguniang Bayan members.
The two resolutions, which are to be sent to the House of Representatives and the Senate, come as the government reimposes tougher quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces due to the rapidly rising number of new COVID-19 cases.
They were also issued as a broad spectrum of citizens called on the government to provide more assistance to Filipinos to help them cope with the more stringent regulations.
A tweet by actress Liza Soberano recently went viral as she said her “heart bleeds for all the people who cannot afford not to go out and work.”
“They literally have to choose between dying of starvation or dying of COVID. Is our country really this poor to not be able to provide stimulus?” she said.
Soberano said in comparison, US citizens have received two rounds of stimulus packages and are waiting for the third, and its COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are free. “Where is the support for the poor in our country?” she said.
Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas had earlier pushed for the P10,000 cash assistance, while her group has launched an online petition urging government to provide aid to those affected by the pandemic as well as the natural calamities that hit the country in recent months.