Over 20 million families to receive next tranche of cash aid, says Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) – About 20.3 million families can expect cash aid from the government this month, as the government recalibrates subsidies to families displaced by the pandemic, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

At a Monday press briefing, Roque said that more families are seen to receive financial aid from the government for the second tranche of fund releases, coming from 19.4 million recipients between April-May.

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This is broken down into 12 million families who are part of the original Social Amelioration Program that received ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 the past month. The original list included about 18 million low-income households, but some have been dropped as their communities already transitioned to general community quarantine which allowed laborers to return to work.

Roque also said these beneficiaries have been replaced by 4.9 million additional families, following President Rodrigo Duterte's order to broaden the coverage of dole outs meant to sustain basic needs while under lockdown. They will receive their two-month cash aid in one go, which may be worth as much as ₱16,000.

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Cebu City and Mandaue City remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Meanwhile, Metro Manila, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City, and Laguna were placed under modified ECQ from May 16 until May 31 to contain COVID-19 infections.

Another 3.4 million workers will also receive relief via the Small Business Wage Subsidy program, Roque added. Help has been extended to some 2.1 million employees, the Department of Finance said last week.

The presidential spokesperson said the latest tally of beneficiaries is higher than the 18 million required under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. The first tranche included the payout of the first month of the cash aid to poor families, as well as funds meant to assist rice farmers, displaced workers, and OFWs forced out of jobs, he said.

Last week, Roque announced that the President has asked Congress for help in looking for additional funding for the second tranche of the government's financial assistance program. Economic managers earlier warned that cash is running low for these dole outs as the COVID-19 crisis stretches to May.