The Senate is eyeing a special session to tackle a “food subsidy budget” for daily wage earners who lost their income due to the enhanced community quarantine being imposed in Luzon amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
“I suggest for Congress to pass a food subsidy budget in order to provide for the daily wage earners who lost their income,” Sotto said in a statement.
He said he is proposing for a PHP300 per day assistance for each poor family affected by the quarantine measure in the National Capital Region, with varying rates in other provinces that have access to fish, vegetables and other basic food supplies.
Though the final amount for the “food subsidy” budget has yet to be tackled in the proposed special session, Sotto said feeding around 15 million poorest of the poor in the NCR alone for 30 days would amount to around PHP27 billion.
He said most senators have already agreed to hold the special session to tackle the proposal.
“Money is food. Food is security. Security is peace and order,” Sotto said.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special session of Congress to tackle and pass measures granting a supplemental budget in order to give the President and concerned agencies maximum flexibility to reallocate and utilize funds as needed to combat the spread Covid-19.
“Additional funds can be allocated so that the government can deliver more financial and food assistance to Filipinos, particularly the vulnerable sectors, daily wage earners and informal economy workers affected by the strict quarantine measures being imposed,” he said in a statement.
“Sa ngayon, may sapat naman po tayong pondo. Pero hindi po tayo dapat maging kampante dahil evolving ang problema. (At present, we have sufficient funds. But we should not be complacent because the problem is evolving),” he said.
Go said the government should consider what will happen in the coming days and even after the community quarantine.
“Let us think of all possible scenarios,” he said.
In a separate statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed that members of the Senate are in discussion to suggest to Duterte to call for a special session of Congress “with the purpose of passing a supplemental budget to support some specific items” primarily to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.
“The plight of the senior citizens’ monthly subsidy, even for a limited time, I’m sure, will be considered,” he said. (PNA)