UPDATED– President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday evening said he is “inclined” to extend the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon up to the end the month.
This after some government officials issued the recommendation to give more time to control the rising cases of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Luzon.
As of April 6, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) reported there were already 3,660 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, of which, 163 died and 73 were able to recover from the illness.
“We have discussed it even before this. We are inclined to extend the lockdown up to April 30. We will see after that [if we could lift it],” Duterte said during a late night public address.
During his over a hour-long speech, Duterte also admitted that the government’s P275 billion fund under the Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal Law may be insufficient to address the long-term effects of the disease.
Of the said budget, P200 billion will be use to provide cash aid for two months to the 18 million “poorest of the poor” households.
“The P100 billion for one month or the P270 billion for two months, that what was programmed as earlier estimated, is not enough,” Duterte said.
“I’m calling on the Secretary of Finance to generate [more funds]. They could steal, borrow, I don’t case as long as they produce the funds once this [P275 billion] is depleted,” he added.
Among the options they are considering, Duterte said, is to realign some of the budge allocations or cancel some of the projects under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) to produce more funds.
He said he expects the situation brought about by Covid-19 will not fully normalize until a vaccine for is discovered.
Despite the dwindling funding for the government programs, Duterte said he is willing to study the recommendation of Cavite Governor Jovic Remulla to expand the coverage of the Covid-intended cash aid to include the middle class.
“I agree with the letter of Governor Remulla. I know the political horizon of the country. If I can, I will include them [middle class]. But can they be included in the P270 billion? Not for now,” Duterte said.
He said they will also be determining how to define the middle class, and who could qualify for government aid during the Covid-19 crisis.
Duterte urged the private sector and the rich to help the government in providing aid to the poor and other needy members of society during the crisis to prevent possible social unrest.