Lawmakers push for cash aid under GCQ

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A number of lawmakers want the government to continue providing cash aid to low-income people even if restrictions are relaxed in their areas. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – A number of lawmakers want the government to continue providing cash aid to low-income people even if restrictions are relaxed in their areas.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said during the House Committee on Trade hearing on Friday that not all businesses are allowed to reopen in the shift from enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to the general community quarantine (GCQ).

“Despite all these transition from ECQ to GCQ, meron parin tayong kababayan na di makakalabas at di makakabalik sa trabaho,” Zarate said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) earlier announced that residents in GCQ areas will no longer receive cash aid as some businesses are allowed to reopen.

On the other hand, businesses that remain closed are those under what the IATF classified as under Category 4 such as entertainment industries, kid amusement industries, cultural centers, tourist destinations, and personal care services.

Hindi ba dapat i-recommend din ng IATF na ang mga affected individuals even during GCQ, wala naman silang hanapbuhay talaga lalo na nasa informal economy, ay tatanggap parin sila ng ayuda?” Zarate said.

[Translation: Shouldn’t the IATF also recommend that the affected individuals even during GCQ who have no livelihood, in particular those in the informal economy, to continue receiving cash aid?]

Baguio City Rep. Mark Go said many businesses will remain closed even if his district will be placed under GCQ.

Hindi naman po fair siguro iyan kasi iyong binibigyan natin, hanggang ngayon, walang trabaho 'yan, walang activities even if nasa GCQ na sila.”

Kagaya namin, we’ll be going to GCQ probably tomorrow but we still have not yet opened iba ibang [different kinds of] businesses sa lungsod, sa munisipyo, kaya apektado sila [in the city, municipality that’s why they are affected]. They will be able to recover many months from now pa,” Go said.

Go also pointed out that under the Bayanihan We Heal As One Act, 18 million low-income households will be given ₱5,000-₱8,000 cash aid for two months.

He said the law does not prohibit low-income earners living in GCQ areas from receiving cash aid.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) said some businesses that opened in GCQ areas reported a big drop in the number of customers.

PRA Chairman Paul Santos said many customers still fear they may catch the virus when they go out.

Another problem is movement restrictions in certain localities.

“One problem is the closure of public transportation, strict rules imposed by LGUs that regulate the movement of persons, and the prohibition on crossing certain LGU borders. These have been cited as reasons why businesses did not pick up immediately after commencement of operators in GCQ zones.” Santos said.

Trade Secretary Mon Lopez said he will bring up these concerns to the IATF.