Statement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government on Government Assistance During this Time of Calamity
Usec. Jonathan Malaya
March 26, 2020
The Department of the Interior and Local Government strongly condemns the attempt by certain sectors to misrepresent, misquote or otherwise place out of context the statements of Secretary Eduardo M. Año and myself about government’s assistance to the people during this time of national calamity.
The DILG never said that “Residents of private subdivisions are in no need of government help.” We also never said “Those who live in subdivisions do not deserve government help,” or words to that effect.
What Secretary Año said in his press conference in Malacanang and I said in the DILG show “Kuwentuhang Lokal” on DZMM Teleradyo is that residents of private subdivisions and gated communities who are well-off should not expect food packs or relief goods from the Local Government Units because those are for poor and indigent families who are mostly daily wage earners, no work no pay, and are in dire need of government assistance.
We are not a rich country. We are a poor country. We do not have limitless resources. Thus, we have to prioritize. The facts speak for themselves: Some 18 million households (or 73% of all households in the country) are poor or low-income in the informal sector and are typically under the “no-work, no-pay scheme,” have no SSS, and have negligible or no savings. The food packs currently being distributed by the LGUs are meant for them for them to be able to survive this crisis.
But we NEVER said that we will not assist the rest of the households or those living in subdivisions. We NEVER said that only the poor will be assisted. Of course, government will assist them. That is why Congress passed RA 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” so that everyone is helped because COVID-19 affects us all.
Those in the formal economy which is some 6.6 million households all over the country will receive other forms of government assistance during this crisis but not the food packs. These types of assistance include the following: credit facilities and reduced lending rates; reprieve in the payment of national and local taxes, fees and other charges required by law to ease the burden of families and individuals; 30-day grace period for the payment of all loans (including salary, personal, housing and motor vehicle loans) including credit card payments without incurring penalties, fees and charges; and a 30-day grace period in the payment of residential rent, without incurring interests, penalties and fees.
In addition, DOLE’s COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) will provide cash subsidy to workers in the formal economy who are affected by the crisis, while the TUPAD program, will provide temporary employment for displaced workers. Government has also appealed to private sector employers to assist their employees in this time of hardship and many have responded positively. This does not include special programs by LGUs and other National Government Agencies that are implemented by them separately, like discounts in the payment of Real Property Taxes and other local taxes and fees.
Again, we appeal to all sectors not to take out of the context the statements made by this Department. As frontliners in the war against COVID-19, responding to irresponsible and malicious statements take time, effort, and energy from what could have been utilized for more productive pursuits to defeat our common enemy.
Nonetheless, the entire DILG organization both in the Local Government and Interior Sectors, including the entire Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and BJMP, remain committed to serve the Filipino people everyday 24/7 until this war is won. With your support, we will emerge from this crisis a better and stronger nation!