Malacañang said over the weekend that is looking into the possibility of using the taxes collected from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to combat the effects of the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Presidential spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in a radio interview that the money from POGOs could also be used to increase the salary of public school teachers and nurses.
“The money, which we collect from whatever sources, is for the government and it can be used for any undertaking in governance,” said Panelo.
He said the government is now readying the P2 billion supplemental fund for interventions to fight COVID-19.
Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello told the BusinessMirror that his agency has already submitted last week its request to the Department of Budget and Management for P1 billion to assist to workers affected by COVID-19.
The Department of Labor and Employment had said it will seek a budget of P2 billion.
Panelo also said the President will issue an executive order on Monday that will formally decare that the Philippines is under a state of public health emergency, as recommended by the Department of Health (DOH).
On Saturday, the DOH confirmed the first local transmission of COVID-19 in the country. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines to six.
The development prompted the DOH to raise the alert level for the COVID-19 outbreak to Code Red sublevel 1 to intensify its contract tracing; expand its severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) surveillance; and strict enforcement of home quarantine.