To underscore President Rordrigo Roa Duterte’s position on the gradual reopening of the economy, the Palace on Thursday, July 9, bared some of the government’s programs to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
“Kaugnay ng muling pagbubukas ng ekonomiya na sinabi ni Presidente, ang Economic Development Cluster ng gabinete ay nagbigay ng pre-State of the Nation presentation kahapon,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr., in a virtual press briefing held in Davao.
The Palace official said that among the salient points of the Economic Cluster’s presentation is that health and livelihood should not be a binary decision. “Kailangan nating proteksiyunan ang buhay sa mga paraan na hindi tayo titigil sa paghahanap-buhay,” stressed Secretary Roque, who discussed some of the government’s programs to assist those who were severely affected by COVID-19 and to mitigate the economic impact of the disease.
Included in the said programs is the Calamity Assistance Program of the Social Security System (SSS) where members can avail a loan of up to PhP 20,000. The SSS also has its Unemployment Benefits Program for the private sector, including house helpers and Overseas Filipino Workers who lost their jobs.
In terms of education support in view of the blended learning modalities that the Department of Education will implement this school year, Secretary Roque said that starting August 1, active members of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) can avail of a PhP 30,000 computer loan. “Mayroon ding educational loan program ang GSIS, kung saan pupuwedeng umutang hanggang PhP 100,000, para pambayad sa matrikula ng mga estudyante,” Sec Roque said.
Meanwhile, Land Bank of the Philippines has the Access to Academic Development to Empower the Masses Towards Endless Opportunities or ACADEME lending program, which is meant to assist private educational institutions.
For small business enterprises, the Philippine Guarantee Corporation has a PhP 120-B credit guarantee program for private banks. On its part, the Department of Trade and Industry, together with Small Business Corporation, has a PhP 1-B COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises Loan Program.
In terms of training, TESDA offers online trainings, while the Department of Tourism has its Online Learning Series Workshops as part of its retooling program for the tourism industry.
“Mayroon din tayong limang libong (PhP 5,000) cash subsidy para sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” said Sec Roque.
The Palace official added that the Build, Build, Build Program will also continue, and is a big part of the country’s economic recovery program.
With the said government programs in place that are meant to assist the Filipinos in the gradual re-opening of the economy, the President’s spokesman and concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) reminded local government units (LGU), the private sector, and the public to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.
“At sa pagbubukas po ng ekonomiya, kasabay ng paglaban sa COVID-19, ang responsibilidad ay mapupunta po sa LGU dahil sila po ang magpapatupad ng mga local lockdown, sa pribadong sektor sa kanilang information drive at strict enforcement pati na rin po yung pagte-test ng kanilang mga empleyado, at sa mamamayan dahil tayo po dapat ang magsuot ng mask, maghugas ng kamay, at mag-observe ng social distancing,” stressed Sec Roque.
In the same press briefing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo “Bong” Vega discussed the current situation in Cebu, saying that they have noted improvements in Cebu City’s COVID-19 situation following the strict enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), including a reduction in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and a decreasing trend in the death rate.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Vice-Mayor Michael Rama said that the Cebuanos welcomed the President’s sentiment with regard to their attitude toward the ECQ, and that they considered it as a positive challenge and a lesson to really be united and prove that they can be one in fighting COVID-19. Vice-Mayor Rama said that he is hoping that with the team led by Secretary Roy Cimatu at the helm of the government’s intervention in Cebu City, that they will be seeing ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’
Lastly, Sec Roque announced in his Davao press briefing, that effective July 10, backriding in motorcycles will now be allowed for couples, as long as the motorcyle has a shield dividing the driver and passenger, and both riders will be subject to health and safety protocol like wearing of mask and helmet. ### OPS-PCOO