CabSec assures continuous aid for poor as gov't considers appeals to help middle class

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) — The national government is currently studying calls to provide cash assistance to middle-income families affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Wednesday said the financial help for the "poorest of the poor" will continue, even if the Duterte administration decides to assist the middle class.

"Pinag-aaralan pa po... Ayaw ko po pangunahan pero I assure that this will not hamper the distribution of aid sa mga mahihirap under the social amelioration program," he said in a virtual press briefing.

[Translation: We are still studying it. I assure you that the aid for the middle class will not hamper the distribution of aid to the poor through the social amelioration program.]

Lawmakers and local officials have appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to provide cash assistance to the middle-income earners as they are also affected by the work stoppage, restricted social movement, and mass transport suspension due to the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Nograles said the budget may come from a different pool, but it will still be covered by the Bayanihan law.

The national government has been distributing cash aid ranging from P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million poor families under its emergency subsidy program.

Nograles admits the study to include middle-class citizens in the government's assistance program still have a long way to go. He said there is no clear breakdown yet as to how many families in the country are part of this classification.

“I do not know kailan matatapos [I don't know when the study will be completed]," he said. "But rest assured we are working on it and we are seeing some proposals."

Duterte said the appeals are "valid," saying those middle-income earners have only enough money saved for emergencies. But he said funding is a different story despite having a P600-billion allocation for the country's COVID-19 response.

Duterte said more funds are needed to fulfill his administration's promise to distribute ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 to indigent families. But he said the government is working "double time" to also provide for the needs of the middle class.