Duterte to seek Congress' help in funding 2nd tranche of cash aid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – President Rodrigo Duterte will ask assistance from Congress in determining additional funding for the second tranche of the government's financial assistance program for COVID-19 crisis.

"We likewise confirm that PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) will ask the assistance of Congress in the finding of additional funding for the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program to complete the rollout of aid to poor and low-income families," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday.

Only families in areas under enhanced community quarantine will be receiving the second tranche of subsidy as Congress has approved limited funds, Roque previously said.

READ: 5 million more families to receive first tranche of cash aid, second wave to cover only ECQ areas

Last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had also cancelled a plan to seek a supplemental budget from Congress as additional funding for the government's ₱1.49 trillion response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes the distribution of cash aid. He cited the absence of supplemental revenue.

Roque said that Duterte had also tasked Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado to determine how much funds can be realigned from this year's budget to further finance the government's financial aid initiative.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which took effect on March 26, grants the President additional powers to realign funds under the 2019 and 2020 budgets for three months.

Under the same act, 18 million qualified families shall be provided a monthly allowance between ₱5,000 and ₱8,000 for two months. The first tranche was originally scheduled in April and the second one in May.

Earlier this week, Roque announced an additional five million families that were left out in the distribution are set to be included in the first round of financial assistance, meaning a total of 23 million families shall benefit from the cash aid.

On Wednesday, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said 16.5 million families have already received the said financial assistance, with ₱93.5 billion already released in the first tranche.